Stoke’s Delap focused on saving Premier League status

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Stoke midfielder Rory Delap says that despite his team’s fine start to the season, Premier League survival and not chasing a Europa League place must remain their priority.

Stoke are currently seventh in the table and have picked up an impressive 10 points from their last four games.

They’ve recently beaten fellow mid tablers Blackburn, ruined Gerard Houllier’s welcome by overcoming Aston Villa, and enjoyed a very encouraging 2-1 victory away at Newcastle.

Despite this early promise, long throw specialist Delap is urging the club’s supporters to be cautious in their expectations and be happy as long as they stay up.

“As long as where you finish is not in that bottom three you’d take it,” Delap told BBC Radio Stoke.

Stoke have maintained steady progress since they were promoted to the Premier League in 2008, finishing 12th in their first season and then improving to 11th in the last campaign.

Delap is going for a similar season this year, adding “We’re looking to improve on last season, if that’s by one point and one place we’d be happy.”

Delap is also doubtful that the team can retain their current position in the table, given the financial strength and squad depth of their competitors.

Delap admits “The strength of the other teams looks a bit above what we’re aiming for.”

Stoke are currently 8/1 to be in the bottom three at the end of season, with eight teams given shorter odds than them on succumbing to relegation – Blackpool remain favourites for the drop at 1/2.

They next travel to Bolton and will be hoping to continue their good form against Owen Coyle’s side.

They’re marked at 2/1 to come away from the Reebok with all three points, but with Bolton unbeaten at home, this won’t be an easy task.

Especially given Stoke’s less than brilliant away record of four wins on the road last year.

Stoke are 8/1 to be relegated this season, see the full Barclays Premier League relegation odds market here.

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