With the Eagles surging back up the Division One table and into promotion contention, Palace manager Trevor Francis is looking to reinforce his squad for the final push.

Going into the game against Coventry on Tuesday night, Palace lie in sixth, with sixteen league games left to play; eight at home and eight away.

Having broken their terrible spell of six away defeats at Bradford in December, Francis' side has embarked on a run of four successive league wins to lift the gloom which lingered after Steve Bruce's acrimonious departure.

The key to their recent success has been a huge improvement in defence, where Francis' three astute signings have added much needed depth and versatility to the squad.

Kit Symons, 30, was the crucial defensive signing, which Palace had lacked since Steve Vickers got the nod from Bruce. The fee, just £400,000 from Fulham in December, now seems a bargain as two clean sheets in the last three games has shown.

The new year signings of Danny Granville, 27, (£500,000 from Manchester City) and Curtis Fleming, 33, (£100,000 from Middlesbrough) have offered versatility on either side, allied with skill and commitment.

All three signings have so far proved excellent value, and may have allayed any fears chairman Simon Jordan might have had about Francis' spend-thrift reputation at Birmingham.

This success and Palace's recent run of good form, may now convince Jordan to invest more heavily in the areas of the squad that need strengthening.

Francis said recently: "We need to have a stronger squad to cater for injuries. I'm happy with us defensively, because we have options. But I would like to bring in a good midfield player and a forward."

The priority remains a striker to cover for the prolific 37 goal partnership of Clinton Morrison and Dougie Freedman.

As shown over the Christmas period when Freedman's hamstring injury kept him out for three games, any injury without adequate cover could hamper the promotion campaign.

Loan signing Trevor Benjamin filled that gap while Freedman was injured but he returned to Leicester City last week.

Francis is thought to favour a burly target man, and several names have recently been linked with Palace. Leicester's Ade Akinbiyi was the major cause of speculation last week, but it is unlikely Jordan would shell out £2.5m for proven Premiership flop.

Nottingham Forest's Trinidad and Tobago international striker Stern John, 25, was another possible target, and Francis is rumoured to have had a £150,000 bid turned down by cash-strapped Forest who want over £1m for their fourteen goal striker.

Another bid cannot be ruled out, but with his contract up in the summer, would John want to sign for Palace and play second fiddle to Morrison and Freedman? Probably not.

Francis may turn his attention to Rochdale's Kevin Townson, 18, who has hit 12 goals already this season, or Brighton's prolific front-man Bobby Zamora, who Simon Jordan and Francis have both watched recently. Both players would be relatively expensive, particularly Zamora, who scored 23 goals last season and is being watched by a number of Premiership clubs.

Another cheaper option might be to rescue Palace old-boy Chris Armstrong from Tottenham in a cut-price deal or to bring in an experienced striker on loan.

Francis is also looking to sign a creative midfield player and have had a bid rejected for Sheffield United's Michael Brown.

The Blades are thought to want £3m for the youngster, but that figure is beyond Palace's budget.

Whoever Francis and Jordan target, the scouts are out and new faces are set to join the Palace promotion race in the next two weeks.