ROY Hodgson is taking nothing for granted as he prepares to take Crystal Palace to Luton Town tomorrow.
The Hatters were immediately installed as odds-on favourites for an immediate return to the Championship after beating Coventry in the play-off final at Wembley.
Despite this, they have recently drawn 1-1 with Liverpool and currently sit a point above the relegation zone, admittedly mainly due to Everton’s controversial 10-point deduction.
Palace are comfortably in mid-table and have collected most of their points on the road this season.
But Selhurst boss Hodgson anticipates a big test for his side tomorrow against opponents who many have already written off as relegation certainties.
He said: “We always knew this was going to be one of the toughest games, there’s no doubt about that.
“I’ve got great respect for the way they play, the way they go about their business, for the job that Rob Edwards has done after leaving Watford after such a short spell. I think it’s quite incredible.
“We as a coaching staff are under no illusions about how difficult it’s going to be for us to win the game there tomorrow.
“Our players have got to make certain that they get their heads switched on and not be confused by the fact that we’re a little bit higher in the table.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the table when the match starts, it’s how you play on the day.
“We know that if we don’t play as well as we can, or should do on the day, then Luton will have a much easier task on their hands than they’re perhaps anticipating at the moment.”
The Eagles have already enjoyed away wins at the other two promoted clubs this season, 1-0 at Sheffield United on the opening day and 2-0 at Burnley earlier this month.
They along with Luton remain many people’s likely candidates to go straight back down, but Hodgson feels Palace are among a number of top flight sides who can’t afford to be complacent about their own status.
He said: “I fear that for a lot of us in the Premier League today, the pressure is coming from the bottom rather than the top.
“I think there are probably a cluster of clubs that never even contemplate the fact that they might find themselves at the wrong end of the table, and their only thought is, ‘Is it going to be Champions League or Europa League or FA Cups?’
“But I think we’re in the bigger bunch of clubs that can never take their eye off the ball in that respect.
“That’s why every game becomes so important, every point becomes so important – every point dropped takes you that little bit closer to where you don’t want to be.”
Hodgson added: “I’m pretty sure that from what I’ve seen of Luton so far – and when we played Burnley and Sheffield United – I was impressed with both of those clubs in the way that they were going about their work and the common sense approach they had, their awareness of what the situation is, and what needs to be done to get a result, which for those clubs will be staying in the league.
“I certainly am in no vastly different position to any of those.”