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Mac gets sinking feeling

MICK McCarthy is on course for his annual collision with the bacon slicer after a punishing 3-0 defeat by Stoke left Wolves firmly rooted in the bottom three.

It was Wolves' 13th loss in 17 away league games and the prospect of relegation looms larger than ever.

A draw or a win at Stoke would have lifted Wolves out of the relegation zone but a gloomy McCarthy struggled to find any consolation in a comprehensive hammering at the Britannia Stadium.

"That's as poor as we have played here. They were better than us. They stopped us playing," said McCarthy.

"It is (a) difficult time when you are in the bottom three and playing against a good side who have just got to Wembley.

"Playing for Premier League survival should be enough to motivate us. We will play better in the remaining four games."

"We're in a scrap for Premier League survival but we don't have a chance if we play like that. My teams usually compete better than that. We were bullied and beaten by the better team."

"Whatever shape we play, we generally stop the opposition far, far better than that," added McCarthy, whose side travel to fellow strugglers Birmingham City on Sunday.

"We've had a dreadful time recently -- one point from four games. I won't make excuses, I'm just looking about for reasons. Funny to go from the Aston Villa performance to four performances like that."

Stoke's win lifted them clear of the danger zone and to 42 points, which should be enough to ensure Premier League survival.



Crucial

The Potters dominated from the off and Kenwyne Jones got the opener on 16 minutes when heading home a Jermaine Pennant cross.

Ryan Shawcross then scored a crucial second in first-half injury-time when tapping home a deflected Glenn Whelan shot.

Pennant added a deflected third six minutes after the break to make sure of the win, while Wolves remain second from bottom, a point from safety.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is not relaxing just yet. "It was a big game for us tonight," he said.

"The players' attitude and application towards the job was fantastic. The first half was as good as we have played in the Premier League."

"We hope our status is guaranteed now. To get to a fourth season in the Premier League and reach the FA Cup final is quite a remarkable journey."

"This club and this team is a lot better that the team that came in. We have gradually improved."

However, Pulis may have to face Manchester City in the FA Cup final without Matthew Etherington after the winger pulled up with a hamstring injury.

Etherington's injury follows those suffered by striker Ricardo Fuller (ruptured Achilles) and defender Danny Higginbotham (knee), with both men already ruled out of the showpiece match.

"It is a massive disappointment for us. We won't know the extent of Matty's injury until he has a scan," claimed Pulis.

"But we will do our damnedest to make sure (he is ready) as he has 17-18 days yet. The first week is very important as we will get it sorted out.

"Having lost Ricardo and Danny, it is a massive blow because we haven't got the resources of Manchester City. It would have been tough enough with our best players."


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