Connor Wickham has dismissed suggestions Manchester United’s rearranged Premier League fixture with Bournemouth on Tuesday gives Crystal Palace an advantage in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
He also believes United are likely to play a weakened team in preparation for Saturday’s showpiece, given Champions League qualification is beyond their reach.
United are to host Bournemouth on Tuesday following the abandonment of the match originally scheduled for Sunday because of fears over what was later discovered to be a fake bomb left at Old Trafford after a training exercise.
The development cuts their preparation time for Saturday’s cup final at Wembley by 48 hours, giving underdogs Palace further time to recover and study their opposition, but even towards the conclusion of a demanding season Wickham believes it will make little difference.
“We know how good United are,” said the striker, 23, who headed the winning goal when Palace defeated Watford in last month’s semi-final. “They are used to playing two games a week. They will be ready for us. We have to make sure we’re better than them.
“It’s more that it’s disrupted that weekend. They were ready to go out and they got evacuated. It’s up to them what team they play but their Champions League hopes are gone so their main focus will be on us.
“Obviously they will rotate players and make a lot of changes. They will want to keep some players ticking over and give them some minutes but I’d expect them to make changes.”
Owing to a knock to his ankle, Wickham did not feature in Palace’s 4-1 Premier League defeat at Southampton on Sunday, but he revealed the shock he felt while monitoring both events from afar.
“There was a bit of disbelief at how quickly it all unfolded (at Old Trafford),” he said. “But we’re not part of that. Now their Champions League place is pretty much gone they might play a very different team on Tuesday. Our focus is on ourselves.”