Emerton key figure in relegation scrap

by AAP on May 20, 2011

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Brett Emerton is set to face the stomach-churning pressure on Sunday that comes with trying to ensure his club avoids losing up to Stg50 million ($A76 million) in one match.

His club Blackburn are in an almighty relegation scrap heading into the final weekend of the English Premier League season and the financial stakes at play are mind-boggling.

The global popularity of the competition has made it so lucrative that experts estimate clubs heading down to the Championship next season will miss out on between Stg40 million ($A61 million) and Stg50 million ($A76 million) in revenue.

The good news for the Socceroo's side is they have five sides below them, the problem is four are within a point and two must go down along with already-relegated West Ham.

Emerton has played in the past two World Cups and is one of the most capped players in Australia's history.

But he will need all of his trademark composure to deal with the excruciating tension that grips clubs in their pursuit of safety on the final day.

Emerton, 32, has been one of Blackburn's leading lights in recent times, his teasing crosses and high work rate helping to keep Rovers' campaign afloat.

It has been quite a turn-around for the Australian.

He started the Premier League season on the bench and lost his starting spot with the Socceroos at the business end of the Asian Cup.

But after the best part of a decade at Blackburn, it's all about Sunday's match at Wolverhampton for Emerton.

If Blackburn win, their safety is guaranteed. Lose or draw and they could be relegated and then have to deal with the inevitable exodus of stars.

Wolves have lived up to their nickname on their home patch this season, claiming the scalps of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea at Molineux. Not to mention winning their last two matches.

"We have to go to Wolves and get a result there," Emerton said following his man of the match performance in last weekend's 1-1 draw at home against champions Manchester United.

"We are in the driver's seat out of all those teams down the bottom.

"We would prefer to be wearing a Blackburn Rovers shirt that's for sure," he said.

"It's all in our own hands, we've got a good goal difference so I'm still positive that we will keep ourselves safe and be in the premier league next season."

The final round of matches start at 1600 British time Saturday (0100 AEST Sunday).