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Magpies ready for Palace test, says Jones

Graeme Jones believes Newcastle United are well-prepared for the task in hand as he prepares to take interim charge of the Magpies for the first time at Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

United head to Selhurst Park this weekend (3pm kick-off) seeking a first win of the season, just a few days on from the departure of head coach Steve Bruce.

And Jones, who revealed that he will lead the team for their next two fixtures, insists that his charges "all know their jobs" ahead of the trip to the capital, which sees United take on a side who are yet to lose at home this term.

"The one thing I can say to you is that over the last three days, every single player – we've had 20 players plus goalkeepers – has had the same experience tactically, both off and on the ball," he said.

"So whatever side I decide to go with tomorrow, they'll all be ready. They'll all know their jobs. Back to the preparation thing, that's been where my focus has been this week."

Boyhood Newcastle supporter Jones has made no secret of his attachment to the club he has been a fan of since he first visited St. James' Park as a four-year-old.

But he insisted that that emotional connection has to be put to one side as he bids to propel the Magpies up the table.

"Sadly for me, my mother and father aren't with me anymore, so I've managed to stay very professional – I haven't gone anywhere emotionally,” said the 51-year-old.

"The job just doesn't allow you to. You have to take that emotion away from it. We all have a job to do tomorrow. I'm sure they'll be looking down on us and helping, but it's just about trying to focus on the game, so I haven't really gone there."

He added: "My ambition is to do the best I can for my football club. I'm motivated in a completely different way than anywhere I've ever been because I came to this football club as a four-year-old with my father, watching SuperMac (Malcolm Macdonald) play in 1974/75, I think it was.

"I was a supporter in the Gallowgate End through the Kevin Keegan era and I know the culture of this football club. Whether I was here or I wasn't, I would still be only interested in their football results. My focus is not on anything other than doing the best I can and making sure everyone else does the best they can for this football club, in the short and long term, to get results."

Palace have won just once under new boss Patrick Vieira, but have drawn five of their opening eight league matches and have yet to be defeated on their own patch.

It has been a solid if unspectacular start to the campaign for the Eagles, and Jones wants his side to be wary of their opponents, who have undergone plenty of changes over the summer.

"I think Patrick's gone in and put his own stamp on the club," he said. "I think everybody knows Roy (Hodgson)'s work was outstanding.

"They're a bit more possession based now, so that’s been the real change, if you like. We’ll have to be ready for that tomorrow.”

And Jones confirmed that United have a largely clean bill of health ahead of the game against Vieira’s men, with only a handful of first team players still unavailable.

“It’s the same as last weekend. Martin Dúbravka’s trained this week, but obviously it’s early. Jonjo (Shelvey)’s obviously suspended,” he said.

Paul Dummett’s back on the training pitch, he’s running at a good level. Elliot Anderson trained today individually, so we’re getting to the point where – touch wood – we’ve got a full quota to choose from.”


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Graeme Jones' pre-Crystal Palace media briefing in full

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