Eagles defender Emmerson Boyce believes Crystal Palace need to tighten up at the back to ensure an instant return to the Premiership.

Palace have uncharacteristically conceded five goals in the last two league matches, including Michael Higdon's 90th-minute equaliser for Crewe, a complete contrast to the start of the season where the Eagles conceded the same number of goals in eight league games.

Defender Boyce is calling for a return to the tight defensive displays reminiscent of those earlier in the season to ensure that Iain Dowie's men stay in touch with the Championship pacesetters.

The 26-year-old said: "The goals we conceded at the weekend weren't the best. After looking at the video of the game we could see that a couple of the goals were individual mistakes.

"We are very disappointed to have conceded three goals, but maybe a couple of dodgy decisions did go against us. We have to go back to getting clean sheets and we have to be more solid and if we do that I'm sure we will be alright."

Despite conceding three goals against Championship leaders Sheffield United on Saturday, Boyce believes positives can still be taken from the defeat.

"We created enough chances and performed well enough to have won the game, but we were just sloppy at the back which we need to cut out. We carved them open at times and created many chances.

"Our general play and the way we passed the ball around, especially in the first 10 minutes of the second half was quite good, but we have to start keeping clean sheets and stop conceding soft goals."

The ex-Luton Town defender was able to get forward to some effect against Sheffield United and while Boyce admits to enjoying joining the frontline attack he knows where his priorities lie.

"I enjoy going forward and I've tried to do that this season, I want to try and get as far forward as I can. But my first job is to defend, but if I can help the attackers I will."

After the defeat to Sheffield United the Eagles are 17 points adrift of second place Reading, but Boyce is confident Palace can still win automatic promotion.

"We can definitely still win automatic promotion. Sheffield United and Reading deserve to be where they are but we've got two games in hand over them. We need to put a good run together like they have and we will start moving up the table.

"But the be all and end all is that we need to be in the Premiership no matter how we get there."