REUTERS - Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce is looking for backline reinforcements during the January transfer window to shore up one of the Premier League’s most porous defences as the club fights to remain in the top flight.
Palace have the joint-third worst defence in the league, conceding 37 goals in 20 games, and have needed to rely on their attack to salvage results this season as they sit 17th in the table on 16 points, a point above the relegation zone.
“My interest is in strengthening the defence, not the attack at this moment in time. When Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako come back (from the Africa Cup of Nations), we have got good options on the front line,” Allardyce told reporters on Thursday.
“It is not a priority but we need to secure more defensive players. We have got bids in for three or four players and will find out if they are successful later today.”
Since replacing Alan Pardew last month, Allardyce has shuffled his backroom staff, bringing in assistant Sammy Lee, who he worked with during his England and Bolton Wanderers tenures, and goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson.
“Sammy brings experience and he knows how I worked,” Allardyce added.
“Martyn has joined us this morning from Cardiff... I’d expect both of them will help to make us better behind the scenes.”
Allardyce also gave short shrift to media reports suggesting striker Christain Benteke, Palace’s leading goal scorer with eight goals, was set to leave the club.
“Unless the chairman knows any different from me, Christian Benteke is not for sale,” the 62-year-old said.
“Never say never but at the moment he is a Crystal Palace player. I am planning on him being here at the end of the window. He has a major part to play.”
Palace travel to face 13th-placed West Ham United on Saturday.
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru