Scottish Premier League

Locke: Hearts have underachieved

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Thu, 04 Apr 2013 18:35:00

Charlton manager Chris Powell admits his side are still not clear of relegation trouble in the Championship.

The Addicks' goalless draw at Brighton on Tuesday took them to 51 points, four clear of the drop zone and with a better goal difference than most of the teams below them.

But Powell said: "With six games to go for us I don't think any manager can put a limit on it because everyone else is gaining points in the bottom three.

"We are only on 51 so I think we need a few more wins under our belt and we will be looking just to make sure we pick up a point or three in every game now.

"It's just one of those seasons where it's going to keep everyone interested right until the end. When you look at the number of sides all bunched together it's going to be really tight all the way.

"We can only care about ourselves and pick up three points at home and a point away or vice versa. It's about getting as many points as we can in each and every game and we will be looking to do that."

Allen, who joined the Reds from Swansea in August 2012, has undergone surgery after struggling with a shoulder injury for much of 2013.

And while Allen knows his form has deteriorated recently, the 23-year-old is confident he can rise up the pecking order soon.

"The fans have definitely not seen the best of me yet," Allen told the club's official website.

"It's no secret that recent months haven't gone great for me. I am confident and faithful that next season I can perform a lot better.

"Unfortunately this season's a write-off in regards to the injury but the plan is, and I've got a bit of time, to make sure it's right over the summer break in time for pre-season.

"It had been there for a while so I'd almost grown used to it but it's got worse and worse and I was probably kidding myself by not getting it sorted a bit sooner.

"It's difficult to say whether it affected my game - I don't want to use it as an excuse, that's for sure. But I'd like to see how it is once it's fixed and I'd like to think it's going to help me massively.

"I'm excited and looking forward to being 100 per cent fit. These things can often play on your mind. Hopefully this will bring out the best in me."

Carroll is currently on a season-long loan at West Ham after finding himself surplus to requirements under Rodgers.

Reports have suggested Rodgers was considering offering Carroll a lifeline at Liverpool next season if he accepted that he would not a be a regular starter at Anfield.

Rodgers admits Liverpool have been keeping tabs on Carroll's progress at Upton Park, but was remaining coy on whether or not the striker would be handed a second chance at Anfield next season.

"We've monitored it very closely," Rodgers told Fox. "We've had representatives from Liverpool at most of the games.

"It's obviously been a difficult season for Andy because his initial idea was he wanted to go out and play every week, but unfortunately for him he's picked up some injuries since he's been away.

"But he scored two very good goals at the weekend and he'll be looking to finish the season on a high and achieve the objectives he wanted to before he went out."

On Carroll's future beyond the end of the current campaign, Rodgers added: "It's nothing to discuss now. It's something we'll speak about at the end of the season."

Carroll is currently on a season-long deal at Upton Park from parent club Liverpool, who host the Hammers in the Premier League on Sunday.

The 24-year-old will be unavailable for the clash at Anfield due to the terms of his loan deal and has scored only five times since moving to east London last summer.

But Demel wants the England international to extend his stay at West Ham.

"Andy is a really good player and beyond that he is a really good man," he said

"I didn't know him before he signed for West Ham but to see a young player with the amount of pressure he had and the way he has behaved, I'm really happy to be his team-mate and I'd be really pleased if he stayed and played for West Ham."

Liverpool splashed out ?35million on Carroll to take him from hometown club Newcastle in January 2011 as they looked to re-establish themselves in the top four of the Premier League.

Despite signing the likes of Carroll, Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing the Reds have struggled to fight the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea but Demel is still expecting a tough task.

"It is still Anfield, it is still Liverpool," he added. "They won't be easy to beat and it won't be easy to play there even if they aren't the great Liverpool.

"They still have really good players in the squad who are capable of making a difference so we just have to focus on the basics and play our best."

West Ham started the season well after Sam Allardyce took them back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

A slump around Christmas plus a poor run of results of late mean they have fallen into the bottom half of the table. Allardyce reckons 38 points will be enough to achieve survival and last weekend's 3-1 win over West Brom took the Hammers to within two points of that total.

Demel agrees that the club are close to securing a second season of Premier League football but insists their end-of-year targets remain higher than purely surviving.

"The game against West Brom was really important," he said.

"We needed the three points because this coming week we are going to Liverpool and we had lost some points over the last few games.

"We are going to Liverpool and we will be trying to get at least one point to keep things going. It is now the last phase of the season and every point is important.

"First of all we need to be safe but then we can try and finish 10th - it is like progression, this is what we are looking for."

West Ham have taken 11 of their 36 points away from home so far and Demel feels home form is vital for a teams who are newly-promoted.

"When you are in the situation we are in I think it is important to win your games at home," he said.

"We have good form at home and in front of our fans and at our stadium we have improved and I think away from home we have had some bad luck - some results we didn't deserve."

Establishing themselves as a top-flight club has become all the more important for West Ham after it was announced last month that they will become anchor tenants of the Olympic Stadium from the start of the 2016 season.

Demel, whose current contract runs until 2015, hopes to be involved once the move has taken place and believes it is a necessity if the club are to progress.

"Everyone knows West Ham will get a new stadium in 2016 and it would be nice to improve year after year and, by then, have a really good team to compete for first place in the Premier League," he said.

"I know how important it is for the club to move to a bigger stadium, for the fans as well, for the future.

"I think everyone will be happy - the facilities will be there and a club like West Ham needs to have a big stadium. We have a lot of good fans who support the team all the time."

Late payment of wages to players highlighted ongoing financial problems at a club which staved off a winding-up order in December after supporters raised more than ?1million to help pay off tax debts.

While Hearts supporters' groups remain keen on fan ownership of the club, they have watched their side slump to second-bottom of the table while Locke was thrust into the managerial hot seat on a permanent basis last month following the departure of John McGlynn.

However, despite all that, the former Jambos skipper admits results this season should have been better.

Ahead of Saturday's visit of Ross County, who have secured a top-six finish in their first season in the SPL, Locke said: "A club like Heart of Midlothian should be in the top six.

"It's been a difficult season, not just on the pitch but off it as well.

"We've not had our problems to seek and we can't forget that the main thing this season for Hearts was survival.

"But even with all the problems we've had, I still think we should be in a better position than we are.

"I think it will be a transitional period for the club, the next few months.

"We're still a wee bit unsure about what is going to happen off the pitch, for starters.

"On the pitch, there are a lot of players out of contract, a lot of players out of contract at other clubs, too.

"So it's certainly a pre-season where there is a big rebuilding job to be done.

"It's refreshing for Scottish football that Inverness and Ross County are up there (top six) and Motherwell have been up there consistently for four or five years.

"But, for me, I just concentrate on Hearts and it's been disappointing for us, so hopefully we can do better next season."

Locke was fulsome in his praise of Derek Adams' men, who have arguably been this season's success story on the domestic front.

"Ross County have been fantastic and Derek Adams deserves every bit of praise he's getting," he said.

"It's brilliant to come up from the First Division and do so well.

"They've got a really good squad of players, very well organised and they work really hard for each other, so I've got nothing but admiration for the way they've gone about their business this season."

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