Belfast Telegraph

Gardner desperate to avoid drop

West Brom midfielder Craig Gardner is ready to hammer a nail into Aston Villa's relegation coffin - but admitted he would not wish the drop on anyone.

Gardner wants to secure the Baggies' survival even if it means helping to seal struggling Villa's fate.

The midfielder suffered relegation with Birmingham in 2011 and does not want a repeat with Albion ahead of the Midlands derby at Villa Park on Tuesday.

Albion are eight points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone after Saturday's 1-0 win over Southampton, with Villa rooted in the bottom three on goal difference following a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle.

Gardner, who started his career at Villa, said: "I know what it is like myself, going down with Birmingham City.

"I wouldn't wish that on anyone. If you say 'who would rather go down, them or us?', obviously I'm going to choose them.

"They are a good side. We have a bit of banter and they have a bit of banter with me and things like that.

"They are a good side with a good manager and there are eight or nine teams in the relegation fight so everyone just needs to win their games. But we want to keep our run going.

"I wouldn't say it is a decent time to play them because they are at home and fighting like we are.

"I think it will be a thriller for the neutrals."

Albion won their sixth match in 10 games under Tony Pulis with victory at the weekend, while Southampton dropped to sixth following Liverpool's 2-1 win over Manchester City on Sunday.

The visitors' showers at The Hawthorns were close to running out of hot water because of a pipe problem as more than cold water was poured on the Saints' Champions League hopes.

Southampton striker Shane Long dismissed their water problems and insisted they will recover their form after one win from five games.

The former Albion player said: "We were down and out anyway after the game. We were disappointed at not winning, going into the (Crystal) Palace game (on Tuesday). I didn't mind the cold showers at all. It's just disappointing. It was a long bus journey home.

"We still believe in ourselves. We've still trained as hard as we've always trained. We have a good squad. Everyone is coming back to fitness as well. The bench is the strongest it's ever been. Competition for places is always good.

"We just need a bit of luck to fall our way and to kick on from there because we know we have quality to prove why we are where we are in the league."

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