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Holloway backing for Wilbraham

Ian Holloway is backing shot-shy striker Aaron Wilbraham to fill the void left by injured top scorer Glenn Murray in the Championship play-off final.

Last Updated: 27/05/13 at 14:10 Post Comment

Aaron Wilbraham: Has boss Ian Holloway's backing

Aaron Wilbraham: Has boss Ian Holloway's backing

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Wilbraham, 33, has scored just one goal - in a 4-1 Capital One Cup One defeat by Preston in August - since joining from Norwich last summer.

But he is set to lead Palace's attack against Watford at Wembley on Monday after Murray, the Championship's 30-goal leading marksman, suffered a cruciate injury in the semi-final first leg against Brighton.

"His enthusiasm is bubbling over, he's waited as an understudy all season and now he has a new lease of life," said Eagles boss Holloway.

"His performance in the second leg at Brighton was fantastic. Unfortunately he didn't get a goal, but he'll be looking forward to it.

"I'm very proud of the way this season has gone for him, the way he keeps working. He's a fantastic professional and we are lucky to have him."

Monday's showdown will mark a third play-off final in four seasons for Holloway, who guided Blackpool to the top flight in 2010 and was narrowly beaten with the Seasiders by West Ham last season.

The 50-year-old took over at Selhurst Park in November after Dougie Freedman quit to join Bolton and, despite a few wobbles along the way, managed to keep them on course for the play-offs.

"Winning would be another notch on my football bedpost, a magnificent achievement for everyone at Crystal Palace and for this group of players, whose manager changed halfway through the season," he added.

"They didn't ask for that. They were fourth at the time. I'm just glad I didn't completely muck it up.

"To be in one play-off final in your life is fantastic and this is my third time. Hopefully it will work out, but we are taking on Watford who are a fantastic team.

"We need to be as focused as we were at Brighton because the opposition are at least as good and at least as formidable a challenge, and we also have to deal with the occasion of Wembley.

"It's all about who handles the occasion. It's a wonderful day for everyone but we have to perform, we hold everyone's hopes and dreams in our hands."

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