Staying afloat

13 April 2009 12:06
Andy Carroll's late equaliser for Newcastle against Stoke could prove crucial in the relegation run-in, according to Dave Bassett. Substitute Carroll earned his side a 1-1 draw and a precious point on Saturday by heading home Damien Duff's 81st-minute cross. The result could not lift Alan Shearer's side out of the bottom three but Bassett, who tasted top-flight relegation with Sheffield United in 1994 and Leicester in 2002, believes the Magpies have what it takes to escape the drop. "They had been battered for a long period and Stoke could have been out of sight but this point is a life-saver; they may look back and think 'that point at Stoke was vital for us'," Bassett told Sky Sports News. "But they've still got battles; they've got to go to Tottenham on Sunday and then they've got these three home games including one against Fulham. "I think people automatically assume they are going to beat Fulham but they were in excellent form against Manchester City; it's not going to be easy against Portsmouth either. "The one they will expect to win is against Middlesbrough but they might need Sunderland or Hull or Blackburn to slip up themselves." Bassett, who believes West Brom and Middlesbrough will be playing Championship football next term, added: "For me, it's one of these three teams - Newcastle, Sunderland and Hull - that are going down with them. "The Sunderland v Hull game this weekend is a big, big game. I think Blackburn will have enough (to escape); they have to be very, very careful. If Roque Santa Cruz, Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts are out then that may be a situation that affects them but I think they will get enough points. "Portsmouth are still there; it's still very precarious for them and there are going to be twists and turns similar to last year when Roy Hodgson's Fulham went up to Manchester City. "Manchester City were leading 2-0 at half-time and at that stage Fulham were relegated and then they came out and scored three goals and won their next two games. It is going to take something like that to escape." Bassett counts Sheffield United amongst one of his former clubs and, after five wins on the spin in the Championship - including a 1-0 away win over Reading - he believes the Blades are capable of bagging an automatic promotion spot to the Premier League. "I think they can do it," he said. "I saw the Reading game. They played very well. It was a close game; they look a very confident side, their form is excellent. "The had a bit of luck in terms of the goal but that's what you need at this stage of the season; I think Birmingham and Wolverhampton will be concerned because they are on their coat-tails."

Source: SKY_Sports