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McClean: These games are key

12 January 2018

JAMES McClean has stressed Albion must win their games against the teams around them if they are to secure their Premier League status for another season.

The clash with Brighton on Saturday comes with Albion four points off safety in the top flight. And although he's been pleased to pick up "bonus points" against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, James believes it's the return from games against sides battling relegation that will determine Albion's fate.

"We've shown [our quality] in the last few games. We got a point at Anfield which is no mean feat, ran United close at home and got a point against Arsenal at home. But those are the bonus games.

"It's the teams around us - the teams battling us to avoid the relegation places - that we need to beat. I can't stress enough how important Saturday is against Brighton."

It's "not nice" to be in the relegation places, says the Ireland international. But all is not lost - and there's plenty of time to put things right.

"It's not nice [to be in the bottom three] to be honest. You don't want to be sitting second bottom, third bottom or even bottom. It's not where you want to be. You want to be as far away from those relegation places as possible.

"We have half a season to put that right - we're only four points from getting out of the drop zone. We just need to do everything we can to put this right and make the second half of the season better than the first half has been."

The midfielder, who netted his first goal of the season against West Ham United earlier this month, was full of praise for the Seagulls. But he says it's down to the Baggies to "take the initiative" and get The Hawthorns rocking as they search for three, precious Premier League points.

"Brighton have been very good so far. They've been hard to beat and have a good defensive unit. It's going to be a very tough game but we're at home. We need the points desperately so it's up to us to take the initiative, press forward, get the crowd behind us and do everything we can to get the win."


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