'We're confident we've turned the corner'

Neil McDonald says West Ham United are confident they have laid the foundations to finish the Barclays Premier League season strongly.

The Hammers travel to Stoke City on Saturday sitting tenth in the table with just ten of their 38 league matches remaining.

While West Ham's haul of 31 points means they cannot rest easy just yet, assistant manager McDonald says he and the players are looking up rather than at the ten teams beneath them.

"I think we're confident that we've turned the corner and we'll be safe this season," said McDonald. "We were in a similar position last season when we were six points away from being in the top half and six points away from the bottom three - it's almost exactly the same place.

"We know how to deal with that and we've gone on a little bit of a run, with a little setback against Everton.

"The games coming up certainly give us a chance of putting points on the board. We've concentrated since the Chelsea game on getting points on the board, be it one or all three, and we've been fortunate enough that a lot of them have been three.

"Winning four on the bounce, which we hadn't done, has given us so much confidence and we've got to use that confidence to put more points on the board and put more pressure on the teams beneath us, so they need to win, win, win to catch us.

"At the same time, we want to match what we did last season and we have set a points target for ourselves which is reachable if we keep winning games."

Concentrating in particular on Saturday's trip to 12th-placed Stoke - level on points with the Hammers but below them on goal difference - McDonald says West Ham have every incentive to repeat last season's victory at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters nicked a late 1-0 win at the Boleyn Ground in September and the assistant boss is also desperate to avenge that disappointing defeat.

Should West Ham triumph in the Potteries, the victory will not only edge them closer to safety but also closer to the top-half finish that everyone at the Club is aiming for.

"Stoke is a tough place to go but we went there last year and won 1-0, plus we owe them one from the start of the season when they beat us 1-0," said the 48-year-old.

"It's always difficult to go to places like the Britannia, where the atmosphere is good and they have got some good players and they are fighting themselves, so it'll be a difficult game. We've had some tough games over the past six or seven weeks, but we've come through them.

"We've hopefully got virtually everybody fit so we can go there with confidence and if we put more points on the board, it'll take us nearer to the points total we want to get."