Steve Not Surprised

Steve Lomas says he is not surprised that the probable points total needed for survival has gone up so much in recent weeks.

It wasn't so long ago that the pundits were claiming a lowest ever total might secure Premiership status, but that theory has been blown out of the water, largely thanks to Bolton's revival.

While West Ham, too, have gone on a good run, the gap remains, but Steve is not surprised that the ante, as it were, has been upped.

"It always happens near the end; there is always a spurt on and teams play others who have nothing to play for," he says.

"Obviously Man City, pretty much safe, would be a prime example last week at Bolton, and that can sometimes help teams that are down there.

"Obviously Sunderland, who are at Birmingham, are due a result and something from there would help - but first and foremost we need to get three points ourselves."

What is conceivable is that other teams could be brought into the equation - which Aston Villa are only too aware of - and Steve adds:

"Villa have plenty to play for and will be delighted if they get a point whereas we obviously need to get the tree which would drag them into it.

"We are on a bit of a decent run and we just want to continue it with a home win against Villa."

Steve went off at half time against Southampton while Michael Carrick didn't make the starting line-up and both are not certain to be fit.

Says Steve:

"It was an injury and I didn't pull out just because I was tired as some people have been quoted as saying; I strained my groin and it wasn't as bad as at first anticipated.

"But I went to train today and had a slight reaction, so I will wait and see how I feel for the weekend - but it is looking doubtful at the moment.

"At the end of the day I should probably have come off earlier against Southampton as I felt it after 15 minutes, but I thought it might go away but it didn't.

"Michael is a doubt as well so we will wait and see how it pans out."

So Steve had to reluctantly sit out the second half revival and he says:

"The lads did very well to get a point on Saturday; we were very disappointed to go 1-0 down though Southampton had the majority of the play.

"But apart from the goal they didn't really have another chance whereas we had a couple of excellent opportunities and could have gone in with the lead ourselves.

"It is a big opportunity this weekend to get three points and hopefully it will put us closer to Bolton if Chelsea do us a favour.

"People are playing for their careers, especially the ones whose contracts are up in the summer; you don't want to have relegation on your CV, it is a blemish on everybody's career.

"I went down with Manchester City and it is not a nice feeling - it was heart-breaking.

"There are young lads here who have come up through the ranks and the club is very important to them.

"We are very disappointed with our position in the league - last season we finished seventh and wanted to push on from that, so it has been a major disappointment and everybody has definitely under-achieved.

"We didn't want to be in this situation, we wanted to be challenging for Europe, but it shows you cannot take anything for granted and our home form has been appalling."

"Every game is a cup final; first and foremost we have to beat Villa and hope the other results go our way, but confidence has improved in the last six or seven games because we have been getting the results - and that is what it is all about.

"We have got to play teams down the bottom and the picture can change by the week."

As for this week's story claiming Fredi Kanoute wants to leave - which the player himself was quick to strenuously deny - Steve says:

"To be honest it doesn't surprise me what is reported nowadays; every story that comes up I take with a pinch of salt anyway."