Clement: Stoke clash is a must-win game

Date published: Friday 21st April 2017 11:00

Paul Clement insists his Swansea players have the stomach for their Premier League relegation fight.

Swansea face Stoke on Saturday back in the bottom three and two points adrift from safety with five games to play.

Clement’s appointment at the start of the year saw a marked improvement in form with five wins from his first eight games.

It was a run which saw the former Bayern Munich number two named the Premier League’s manager of the month for January, but one point from the last six matches has put Swansea in real relegation danger again.

Asked if Swansea have the appetite to win their survival battle, Clement replied: “100 per cent. I’ve seen the players battling and going hammer and tongs in training this week.

“They know how important the Stoke game is and what is needed.

“The intensity in training has been there. If I had seen something different in terms of mood – flat or lack of belief – I would be worried. But I am not.

“I know there has been frustration from the fans, but I have seen some positive signs. We all have the belief we will stay up.”

The importance of beating Stoke is not lost on Clement with Swansea’s next two games being at Manchester United and at home to in-form Everton.

Swansea’s final two games are at bottom-placed Sunderland and at home to West Brom.

Hull, who are two points better off than Swansea in 17th position, have a kinder-looking run-in, starting at home to mid-table Watford on Saturday.

“The fact that Hull are at home to Watford, a game I believe they will win, means Stoke is a must-win game for us,” Clement said.

“As we stand, it is out of our hands. If us and Hull win all our remaining five games – which is a big task – there is nothing we can do.

“But it is unlikely we will both win every game.

“I think we are going to need three wins and maybe another point (to survive), and we have still got to hope they falter.”

Clement admits it has been difficult to identify the reasons for Swansea’s slide after overseeing such a dramatic turnaround at the start of his tenure.

But he has urged his players to handle the pressure during the final weeks of the season.

“Myself, the staff and the players have looked a lot at all the games that have gone by,” Clement said.

“The process has been the same as when we were winning games.

“It is a complex situation and the problems are not easy to resolve.

“The players have not responded particularly well over last five or six games when the pressure has been there.

“But I have reinforced this point that we have to play under this pressure. Because if we keep performing the way we are the pressure will be gone in those last two or three games.”

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