Delap acknowledges dip in form

The midfielder, whose long throws tend to disguise his skill with

the ball at his feet, is his own harshest critic. Despite starting

in 21 of 24 league games, the 33-year-old feels he can do better.

He is looking to retain his place in the side against Portsmouth on

Saturday at Fratton Park following the draw with Manchester City.

Delap said: “I have been in and out of the team a little bit. But I

have not been too happy with my form in a few of the games.

“Whether that is age or not I don’t know. When I’ve had a rest and

missed a couple of matches it has done me good. “I think that has

shown in my performances when I have come back into the side.

“Playing Saturday, Tuesday, I do feel it in my legs. But some of

the younger lads are saying pretty much the same thing. “It is hard

to remember what you were like at 23-24. There is a bit of

tiredness there but that is only natural now. “While the results

have been pretty pleasing, I still want to play every game.”

Cash-strapped Portsmouth are struggling at the foot of the table

and former Southampton midfielder Delap has first-hand knowledge of

how money matters can impact badly on players. He said: “I have

been at a club where the financial side has gone awry. People say

it doesn’t have an effect on the team but it did with us.

Southampton ended up getting relegated. “Usually what happens is

the manager’s situation changes so many times, you cannot string

good results together. “Portsmouth are in a worse situation

financially than Southampton were in. “They will be like a wounded

animal. The last few weeks the team have picked up and they are not

far off getting out of trouble. “However we are confident we can

win every game we go into, which shows how far we have come as a

group.” Manager Tony Pulis cannot wait to “turn 40” and savour the

moment. That is the points tally he is aiming for to secure the

club’s top-flight status for a third season. Stoke are currently on

31 and Pulis said: “I just want to get to 40 points as quick as I

can. That is a big thing for this club. “Then we can look forward

to doing it again in the third year. This club will be different

then, I am convinced.”