West Ham United midfielder Gary O'Neil is expecting a hot reception at Southampton on Saturday.

The in-form No32 began his professional career at the Saints' biggest rivals Portsmouth, spending eight years at Fratton Park and taking part in three keenly-contested south coast derbies.

The stakes will be just as high this weekend as both clubs seek a win that will take them to the magical 40-point mark - a generally accepted benchmark for safety in the Barclays Premier League.


"I think we're looking for one more win," O'Neil confirmed. "Hopefully it can come this week but Southampton are in great form and they have had some fantastic results at home - I think they have beaten Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool at home recently.

"It'll be a tough game because they've got some good players. We'll go there and hopefully we'll have a couple more players fit and the gaffer will have stronger squad to pick from.

"I'm looking forward to it, even though I'll get a bit of stick coming from Portsmouth. It's another chance to go and get three points. Our away form has picked up with a win at Stoke and draw at Anfield after five straight defeats on the road. Hopefully our improved form can continue."

While West Ham have not been involved in the relegation battle all season long, O'Neil says he and his team-mates are eager to get to the safety mark as soon as possible so they can enjoy the final few weeks of the season.

"I don't think we're counting ourselves as safe yet, because we're only six points above the bottom three. I don't think it's completely done dusted but we're looking to hit as many points as we can anyway - we're not going to get to 40 and stop.

"We're going to push on from there and try to get into the high 40s if we can."

Once Saturday's game is out of the way, O'Neil will return home to his sofa to enjoy the closing rounds of the Masters golf tournament.

The scratch handicapper, who tried unsuccessfully to qualify for last year's Open Championship, would love to swing a club in a major one day, but concedes that Augusta maybe a shot too far. Instead, he believes Tiger Woods will instead challenge for his 15th major victory.

"I'd love to play in the Masters one day, but I don't think they'll let me!" he joked. "I think Tiger Woods has got a good chance. I think he needs to hit it a little bit straighter than he has done off the tee recently. He's been awesome this year. I've watched most of it and he's been fantastic.

"Obviously Rory McIlroy playing well last week has made everyone fancy him a little bit as well. It wouldn't surprise me if Rory, Tiger and Phil Mickelson are right up there at the end."

To watch Gary O'Neil's full West Ham TV, including his views on last Sunday's draw at Liverpool, click here.

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