Stoke City promotion winner Liam Lawrence says relegation just isn’t an option for the club at the end of this season.
But he remains confident that Michael O’Neill’s men can finish the job they started earlier this year by ensuring Championship safety over the remaining nine games.
Lawrence, who will be summarising during tomorrow’s return to action at Reading (tomorrow,3pm), says: “Relegation would be an absolute disaster, not only for supporters, but for the club from the financial aspect.
“After 10 years in the Premier League, finishing ninth three years running, going down to League One would be unthinkable. It just isn’t an option.
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“Nobody wants that, least of all the manager and his players, but he has come in and steadied the ship to give us a real chance now.
“There’s certainly not so many whispers coming out of the club these days and those that do are a lot more positive.
“I’m not overly confident about staying up, I wouldn’t put my house on it just yet, but confident, yes.
“Michael O’Neill has got players hungry and picking up their form once again. I always thought this squad could possibly hold its own in the Premier League, but it was a case of somebody coming in and getting a song out of them, which he’s done.
“I’ve seen a difference in some players, I won’t say who, and it gives you hope that they will turn things around.”