Redknapp dreams of great escape for struggling Rangers

Reuters, LONDON

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 - Page 20

Queens Park Rangers are “not dead yet” in the Premier League and need four wins from their last five games to have any chance of avoiding relegation, manager Harry Redknapp said.

The London side, along with Reading, are adrift in the bottom three and their fate could be sealed if they lose at home to fellow strugglers Stoke City today and Aston Villa win at leaders Manchester United on Monday.

Since a mini-revival last month when they won successive games against Southampton and Sunderland, Rangers have lost three and drawn one of their last four.

They are 19th and 10 points adrift of safety, but Redknapp said they had not given up hope.

“The dream is still alive. It’s not dead yet and we’ve got to keep going. We need four wins and a draw from the final five [matches] to have a chance,” Redknapp told reporters yesterday.

“We’re still not down. We’ve still got five games to go. We all know it’s a tall order but we will keep going,” he said. “If [relegation] happens, we’ve got to re-group and come back stronger, but we’re not giving up yet, we’ve still got a chance.”

Rangers striker Bobby Zamora is still suspended and winger Shaun Wright-Phillips is out for the season with an ankle injury, but midfielder Stephen Mbia, left out of last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Everton by Redknapp for fear of the defender picking up a fifth booking and a ban, could return.

A miserable run of form has plunged Stoke into a precarious position, with one league win in 13 since the start of the year threatening to end their five-season stay in the top flight.

Stoke sit 16th, three points above the drop zone and manager Tony Pulis believes another six points will guarantee his side safety.

“It doesn’t matter whether they come in the next two games or the last two,” he told the club’s Web site.

Pulis said Stoke needed to sharpen up in both penalty areas to arrest their slide.

“It’s been in both boxes that we’ve struggled. Of late, we’ve given poor, poor goals away and we’ve got to stop doing that,” he said.

“And at the other end of the pitch, there have been games where we’ve had great opportunities and not taken them,” Pulis said.

The Daily Telegraph yesterday reported that Stoke were trying to offload Jermaine Pennant following an alleged bust-up with Pulis.

The newspaper said Pennant had trained away from the club for two weeks after a row with the manager following the defeat by Everton last month.