Pulis backs Gayle to improve

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis expects striker Dwight Gayle to carry his impressive end-of-season form into the next campaign.

Gayle scored a double in Palace's season-ending 2-2 draw at Fulham on Sunday, following up on his brace in their remarkable 3-3 thriller with Liverpool the previous Monday in a game that had huge implications on the title race.

The 23-year-old, who joined from Peterborough United in July, finished his first year with Palace with eight goals in all competitions.

And Pulis is hopeful that Gayle will be able to better that tally in 2014-15.

"When I first came into the club Dwight was the marquee signing," Pulis said. "They'd spent a lot of money on him and he looked as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders in lots of respects.

"I don't think he was really integrated within the main core group and he looked a little bit on the fringes.

"We've spent a lot of time working with him and opening him up as a person and as a player and he's become a lot closer to the group and I think he needed that.

"He didn't need the pressure that could have been put on him, we took that away from him and the last couple of weeks he's been brilliant on the pitch. Since Christmas he's improved immensely.

"He's a nice lad. Initially it was very, very difficult to get anywhere close to Dwight. He came out of non-league, went to Peterborough, and then we spent a hell of a lot of money on him within 18 months.

"It's a massive, massive jump for a kid to come out of non-league, play one year in the Championship and then be thrown in and be the main man at a Premier League club, it was a big ask for him.

"He looks, or he is, a very, very good goalscorer. A good pre-season and I would expect Gayley to give us a good return next year."