Palace's Aussie dangerman

Player to watch - Tony PopovicCRYSTAL Palace have conceded only 12 goals in 16 home League matches so far this season. This record is bettered only by Leicester City and equalled by Norwich City.

Player to watch - Tony Popovic

CRYSTAL Palace have conceded only 12 goals in 16 home League matches so far this season. This record is bettered only by Leicester City and equalled by Norwich City.

The big names at Palace tend to be strikers but 29-year-old Australian international central defender Tony Popovic is underrated by English fans because they know so little of him.

He stands an imposing 6ft 4ins and was in the Australian team that lowered the colours of Sven-Goran Eriksson's England side a few weeks ago.


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Popovic has more than 40 caps for his country and was signed from the J-League. Palace paid Sanfrecce Hiroshima £600,000 for the big Australian who was seen as a replacement for Fan Zhiyi who returned to his native China for World Cup duty.

Popovic plays as a left-sided central defender. He started his career with Sydney United and had a brief but unsuccessful spell with Wolverhampton Wanderers between 1995 and 1997 when Mark Venus was one of the players he was unable to displace. Kit Symons, the 32-year-old Welsh international, is likely to be on the right. Symons left Fulham after losing his place and was happy to join Palace for £400,000. Earlier Symons played for Portsmouth and Manchester City.

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It could be that Darren Powell, a £400,000 summer signing from Brentford, will be involved after a hernia operation. The Popovic-Symons partnership looks the best bet. They are currently perhaps as commanding as any pairing in the Nationwide League Division One.

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