Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Former Club's Plight Not Anton's Major Concern; Hammers Old Boy Thinks of Cats First

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Former Club's Plight Not Anton's Major Concern; Hammers Old Boy Thinks of Cats First

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter

ANTON Ferdinand insists Sunderland's safety matters more to him than his dread of hammering another nail into West Ham's relegation coffin.

The Sunderland defender will take on his old side - and the club he has supported since he was a boy - tomorrow at Upton Park in a game which could have profound consequences for both the Black Cats and the Hammers. Victory for Sunderland would make the Wearsiders mathematically safe and heap even more pressure on Gianfranco Zola's team, who could slip into the relegation zone if Hull beat Burnley tomorrow afternoon.

A win for the Hammers - their first since February - would give them a fighting chance of escaping the drop and would make Sunderland wait a little longer to convert their already realistically safe position into a mathematical certainty. Ferdinand is desperate to see the club which nurtured him and his older brother Rio win their scrap for survival, but is determined they will not get a helping hand from Sunderland.

He said: "I am a professional and I am sure the fans of both clubs understand that.

"I am going there to do a job. The Sunderland fans will be travelling there in vast numbers and I owe it to them to play my heart out.

"My family will all be there on Saturday and they want West Ham to stay up, but they will also want me to win.

"Given the circumstances, a draw would probably suit my family best - but not me!

"Once the game is over, I will be hoping West Ham stay up because the Premier League would not be the Premier League without them in it. Not in my eyes, anyway." A Sunderland win would put them on 41 points, meaning they could not be caught by Portsmouth, Burnley or the Hammers over the final four games of the season. In the final analysis, even the 38 points Sunderland have now is likely to prove enough to make the Black Cats safe, but Ferdinand says the Wearsiders cannot afford to think that way. He said: "I would not say the pressure is off yet. You are not safe until the league table says you have enough points to be safe. "A win tomorrow will make us safe, but to be honest we are looking up rather than down. …

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