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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment