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Yes we can, SWP tells fans

Shaun Wright Phillips 0809

Shaun Wright Phillips 0809

Shaun Wright-Phillips is desperate to give confident Hamburg a night they'll want to forget in Thursday's UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg at a sold-out City of Manchester Stadium.

The Germans appeared to celebrate their recovery from Stevie Ireland's early opener in last week's first leg at the Nordbank Arena as if their 3-1 victory had already clinched a passage through to the semi-finals.

But SWP, battling to shake off the ankle knock that ruled him out against Fulham on Sunday, warned Martin Jol's Bundesliga boys: "All I'll say is that it's not over until the fat lady sings. It's not finished 'til the whole tie is done.

"We're recognised as being very good at home, and if we play the way we usually do, we will make enough chances to win 2-0. It's a matter of taking those chances on the night. We have to put them on the back foot straight away.

"Anything is possible. If we go out there and play the way we know we can on Thursday, it will be difficult for Hamburg. Everyone is confident, we've spoken about it already and we have got the belief that we need.

England winger Shaun is optimistic about playing - "it's still sore but fingers crossed, I'm having daily treatment" - after his effervescent skills were badly missed in the 3-1 home reverse against Fulham.

That setback, denting hopes of a best-ever Premier League finish of seventh, led to some disquiet among fans and critics but SWP is adamant that progress is being made - and will continue during the coming months.

He said: "It would be a dream for me to win the UEFA Cup after starting at the club as a kid - achieving things and being successful here was part of the reason I came back.

"The fans were a factor, and the manager is another of the reasons. I used to watch him as a player and idolise him. I'm very supportive - I've seen what he's done as a manager elsewhere and I wanted to play for him. If everybody is a bit more patient we'll be fine.

"Emotions take over in football. The fans want to win as much as we do. They show their frustration, we feel it on the inside. But I understand what they're going through and they're entitled to express those feelings. They know what we're capable of, and at times we've let ourselves down with lapses of concentration."

Stevie Ireland pointed a public finger after the first-leg defeat, saying some team-mates had not been "brave" enough, but SWP said: "He was upset about losing. Maybe it didn't come across as he'd have liked. But there are no hard feelings from any of us. We all get along."

Manager Mark Hughes fears that a long season that started in mid-July is beginning to have an effect, and Shaun said: "Only players can understand what it's like, travelling and playing every three days. It gets on top of you. But for me it's mind over matter. Once you kick off, you forget you're tired."

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