Southern: The pressure is on West Ham

Keith Southern
Keith Southern
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KEITH Southern says Blackpool could be up against a non-league team at Wembley and they’d still be labelled underdogs.

The Seasiders midfielder, who is targeting a dream end to a season during which he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, was reacting to West Ham being installed as firm favourites with the bookies to win next weekend’s play-off final and reach the Premier League.

The 31-year-old said: “We are used to the other team being favourites.

“We could be playing Aldershot Town at Wembley and they’d still be the favourites.

“It goes with the territory being at Blackpool FC, I’m afraid. But that suits us down to the ground. West Ham won’t want to play us, trust me on that.

“I genuinely think we can win. We wouldn’t bother turning up if we didn’t. They beat us twice this season, so what?

“We hadn’t got much from Birmingham in either league game yet we knocked them out.

“So all the pressure is on West Ham and let’s see how they handle it.”

Southern has been desperately unlucky to find himself on the bench for the last few games, losing his place because of a three-game ban for a harsh sending off against Barnsley.

He was thrown on for the last half-hour at Birmingham to help them over the finish line.

He loved every minute but admits it was tough, saying: “It was like being thrown into a cauldron when I went on, and although I was delighted to get on the pitch it wasn’t easy.

“Birmingham were piling people forward. I was just trying to stem the tide.

“At 2-2 we were worried. It was the land of the giants towards the end and they were throwing balls into the box.

“We were defending for our lives but we held out and full credit to everybody. The back four and goalie were different class.

“The lads dug in. We rode our luck a little bit but I think over the two legs we fully deserved it.

“Now we have a great opportunity to get back to the Premier League. That would be brilliant.”