Sam Allardyce has set his West Ham United side the target of getting seven more points as quickly as possible to ensure their Barclays Premier League safety.

The West Ham manager believes 38 points this campaign should enough to secure top-flight football for the 2014/15 season and with the Hammers currently on 31 points from 29 games, two wins and a draw should see them safe. Saturday's game at Stoke City sadly yielded no return, so Big Sam is now hoping to secure the first of that septet of points when Manchester United visit a sold-out Boleyn Ground for this Saturday's teatime kick-off.

"At this stage you can't tell whether it's going to be as little as 36 points to stay up but I certainly think 38 points should be fine," Allardyce said. "It's about getting to 38 as quick as we can otherwise the pressure mounts again if you keep losing football matches. We've lost two on the trot away from home now.

"Our next game against Manchester United will be very tough and we must get some points out of that and settle ourselves down again."

After a fantastic February that provided four wins from four, March started with a single goal loss at Everton two weeks ago, a result that prompted Big Sam to make some minor tweaks to his starting XI for the trip to the Britannia Stadium. With practically a fully-fit squad to choose from and competition for places fierce, Winston Reid, Antonio Nocerino, Momo Diame and Andy Carroll were all given the chance to show the manager what they could do.

"I've got some talented players in the squad and from reviewing the Everton game from a possession point of view it was rare we did anything. I think we had one shot on target and only three attempts on goal in 90 minutes and you've got to try to do better than that when you're away from home," Allardyce explained.

"We made some changes with Mo Diame and Nocerino in midfield and obviously Andy Carroll as our most expensive player was called back in up front. The hardest decision of them all, though, was bringing in Winston Reid for James Collins, who had done magnificently.

"Sadly against Stoke, our defending let us down, if our defending hadn't let us down as badly as it did we would have got a point.

"We made it easy for the two goals we've let them score. The third goal was an excellent finish but the second one should have been stopped at source. Not only by the defenders but by the goalkeeper as he [Marko Arnautovic] mis-hit it and it bobbled in the corner.

"Based on the second-half play, I thought if anyone was going to score, it would be us but then we switched off defensively and paid a high price."

The Hammers were indeed unfortunate to go behind after being much the better side in the second half, with Carroll proving a constant source of irritation for the Stoke defence. His fine header from a Mark Noble free-kick had given West Ham a fourth-minute lead and he fought tirelessly to create and lead West Ham's attack during an 83-minute run-out - his longest since returning from a long-term foot injury on 11 January

"We were debating whether to leave Andy on and he causes the opposition all sorts of problems. Ryan Shawcross has fouled him six times and that shows how much trouble he causes.

"Andy is one of the best headers of the ball you'll find, which he showed on Saturday. Not only did he head the ball in the net, but some of the biggest defenders in the game in the Stoke side just couldn't cope."