Relegated twice but you can't keep Hunt down

Relegated with Reading. Relegated with Hull City. Second from bottom with four games left with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Stephen Hunt is in danger of becoming an expert in plummeting out of the Premier League. "Not so much a relegation expert," says the Ireland midfielderwith a self-mocking laugh, "more a relegation disaster."

But a disaster, according to the tousle-haired 29-year-old, that can still be averted. Wolves face a high-noon derby at Birmingham today, and Hunt, having enjoyed one of the few highlights of his first, injury-blighted season at Molineux when he scored the winner in the clubs' meeting last November, is adamant that Mick McCarthy's side can survive. There are positives to be drawn from his personal history.

"Last year I was voted player of the year at Hull although I only played for six months because of injuries," says Hunt. "At Reading I was also player of the season when we went down. I'm not going to win it this time, so that should be a good omen."

After a hernia operation, Hunt made his latest comeback in a 3-0 drubbing at Stoke on Tuesday, ending up with Robert Huth's hands around his neck during a typically spiky substitute's cameo. He hopes to return to the starting XI at St Andrew's, where Wolvesneed to find the form thatsaw them beat Aston Villa on their previous trip to the Second City.

The old-gold faithful are baffled as to how Wolves can defeat the elite – Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool – but labour so wretchedly against lesser opposition. "You can do all the preparation and have all the focus, but on the day it doesn't happen," Hunt explains, evidently as bewildered as any supporter. "Birmingham are a decent team but we have to try to play with freedom, as if we're a mid-table side, and forget the pressures. I'm sure they'll be thinking, 'If we win, we're safe'.

"That's what [Blues manager] Alex McLeish will be thinking. We have to win not only for ourselves but to keep them involved in the relegation battle.The gap is still fairly tight. There's usually one team you can say have gone by now. Not this time.

"We have to go back to basics – do the nasty side, track back, work. Then let the football do the talking in the right areas. I saw Sky Sports News yesterday – [Roberto] Martinez, [Ian] Holloway. We all want to stay up, we're all saying the same things.

"But it's performances that count and whoever plays the best will deserve to stay up. We're hoping it's Wolves and we end up with a smile on our face."

The expert, the one-man disaster area, knows all too well what to expect if he endures a third demotion. "Relegation kills your summer. The little time we have off anyway, with internationals and stuff, you can't enjoy it. It breaks your heart. There's a sick feeling in your stomach.

"But I'll tell you what," says Hunt, exuding optimism again. "If we stay up, I'm going to have a week of fun. I won't begrudge myself that. But first of all we have to survive."

Birmingham City v Wolverhampton Wanderers kicks off at 12pm today

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?