Gale's Winning Edge

TONY Gale insists four points from a possible six over the last two games of the season should see West Ham United claim a Play-off place. But he warns that Hammers must go all out for the win at home to Sunderland on Friday night to put the pressure back on the other Play-off pretenders.

"We've got to look at taking maximum points from the Sunderland game," he admitted. "It's a dangerous business to rely on the teams around you and now that West Ham are back up into sixth spot their destiny is in their hands again.

"I think four points from six will see Hammers into the Play-offs, on the basis that Reading won't take maximum points from their remaining games against Wolves and Wigan. Two wins for West Ham will make sure and that should be the target.

"Sunderland have just won promotion, they are definitely the best side in the League and it's going to be a really tough game on Friday.

"I saw them play Reading a couple of weeks ago and although they didn't win the Black Cats looked very impressive. They play good football under Mick McCarthy and they'll have a point to prove after we beat them 2-0 at the Stadium of Light.

"It's going to be interesting to see how hungry they are after wrapping up promotion at the weekend. But the title is still up for grabs for them and for West Ham it couldn't be a more important occasion in front of the Sky cameras."

The former Hammers defender will be at Upton Park on Friday to commentate on the game for Sky TV and is expecting a bumber crowd for the final scheduled home game of the season.

"Of course, everyone is hoping that we'll have one more home game after this one in the Play-off semi-final," he said. "But I'm sure the crowd will treat it as their last and really make it a crackling atmosphere under the lights.

"When the stadium is packed and the fans are right behind the team there is no more difficult place to play for visiting sides than the Boleyn Ground.

"This game could make or break the Club's Play-off chances and the players need the backing of the crowd on Friday night. But the fans are excellent, they'll know what's required and I'm sure it'll be a huge atmosphere."

There should be no greater motivation to secure a Play-off place than West Ham United's painful exit in the final of last year's competition in Cardiff. And Tony insists that memory will be spurring the players on over these final weeks of the season.

"It's not often in football that you get a second chance," he admitted, "and the Hammers player will be desperate to get back into the Play-offs and prove that they have what it takes to make it all the way to the Premiership.

"Those who were involved last year will be better off for that extra year's experience and they'll have more knowledge of what it's all about ths time around.

"I think that will not only help them on Friday against Sunderland, but also next week against Watford. The Play-off race looks set to go right down to the wire.

"I'm sure at the start of the season Alan Pardew would have hoped for a more comfortable route towards promotion than this. But the Play-offs mean West Ham United have still got a great opportunity to end this season on a high, and it's important that they take advantage of it, starting against Sunderland on Friday."