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

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
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

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup