Specs expects tough finale

Jonathan Spector knows Middlesbrough will be fighting for their lives when they visit the Boleyn Ground on Sunday.

The Teesiders find themselves in a perilous position towards the foot of the Barclays Premier League table, knowing they must beat the Hammers by a convincing margin to stand any chance of avoiding relegation to the Championship.

Spector knows all too well how resolute teams battling to stay up can be at the tail end of the season, after playing a vital role in West Ham United's famous 1-0 win at Old Trafford at the end of the 2006/07 campaign. With James Tomkins suspended after his red card at Everton last weekend, Gianfranco Zola could hand the defender his fourth start of the season.

"They are going to be fighting for their lives and we know it is going to be a difficult game," Spector said. "It's the last home game of the season and we know it is going to be a tough game because they are certainly not going to want to get relegated."

If statistics are anything to go by, Gareth Southgate's side could face an uphill struggle against the Hammers as they have only scored two goals in ten Boleyn Ground games since the Premier League began in 1993.

What is more, West Ham United have only lost their last league game of the season once since the Premier League's inception, although that single defeat was away at Sunday's visitors back in 2001. Spector, though, is certainly taking nothing for granted.

"It has been such a tight season this season this year with the teams in terms of points and there's a lot going on all over with teams fighting for survival and European qualification. We can only concentrate on ourselves, finish on a high and give the supporters a show."

Following the game's conclusion, the Hammer of the Year 2008/09 will be awarded, with the US international finding it impossible to pick out a potential winner among a strong field of candidates this year.

"It's going to be difficult. There have been some great performances from the new players that have come in. It is hard to single anyone out because I think everyone has had a really good season. I feel sorry for the players that have done well and probably deserve it and don't get it as there were quite a few."

Once the awards have been handed out, the players and coaching staff will undertake a lap of appreciation around the Boleyn Ground pitch, which will give Spector and his team-mates the chance to thank the claret and blue faithful for their unwavering support this season.

"The fans have been great this year as they have been every year I've been here so we want to show them our appreciation for everything they do for us."