West Ham United vs Blackburn Rovers - Rallying call from Grant

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Posted Saturday, May 07, 2011 by PA

West Ham manager Avram Grant has told everybody connected with the club to forget what might happen and instead focus on securing Barclays Premier League survival.

The Hammers head into the vital clash with fellow strugglers Blackburn languishing rock bottom and on the back of a terrible run of form, which has seen them fail to win in any competition for more than two months.

The east London side have three matches left to stave off relegation to the npower Championship and lie three points off safety.

Despite the need to focus on football, the past few weeks have been peppered with stories relating to what could happen if the Hammers get relegated.

Last week Grant had to brush off comments from co-owner David Sullivan after he questioned the players' commitment and survival hopes.

The former Chelsea and Portsmouth manager headed into this week's press conference on the back of fellow owner David Gold's comments that their England internationals would have to part from the club if they are relegated.

"Why do I need to answer that question? If, if, if, if," he said when asked about the situation regarding the likes of Matthew Upson, Robert Green, Carlton Cole and Scott Parker.

"We want to stay in the league, we believe we can stay in the league and we believe we deserve to stay in the league.

"We are playing football that deserves to stay in the league. Unfortunately, we are on our last players but we think we can go to be out of this.

"And we will do everything to do this because it is not easy but still possible. I don't want to think negatively."

Grant could well head into the Rovers match without England international Parker due to an Achilles complaint that has seen him miss the recent defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City.

Grant admits Parker's return would be a welcome bonus but says he is "not so optimistic" that he will be able to include him.

"If he can play I want him to play," he added. "I am not sure what is 80% or 100% but with Scotty you never know.

"Before the Liverpool game there was not even a 10% chance he would play but he played.

"So we need to wait and see because if he is fit I want him to play."

Blackburn manager Steve Kean insists his players can put Rovers' terrible recent record against the Hammers out of their heads for the match.

The Lancashire club have not beaten the Hammers in their last nine attempts, and you have to go right back to the days when Kenny Dalglish was Blackburn manager for the last time they triumphed at Upton Park.

West Ham are desperate for victory to keep their Barclays Premier League survival hopes alive, while three points for the visitors would secure their top-flight status.

Asked about the recent record, Kean said: "We are trying to push that to one side.

"If it was the same team that had been together for years and had that record you can maybe understand it.

"But a lot of these players may have been at clubs where West Ham has been a good place to go.

"What we need to be is ruthless. We've a really good spirit, a togetherness, a willingness, something I think everybody has seen over the last couple of games.

"I think we are playing well, we aren't fearing the games, we are looking forward to the games and getting points.

"I think we can add to the points tally on Saturday. It is just all about getting the points, about pushing yourself over the line."

Blackburn will give late fitness tests to Junior Hoilett, David Dunn and Michel Salgado ahead of the game, and Kean believes at least two of the trio will be available.

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