Stoke City: Matthew Etherington lays down top 10 challenge
MATTHEW Etherington has set Stoke a Premier League target of 45 to 50 points for the current campaign.
He hopes that will ensure a first-ever top-half finish for the Potters at the fifth attempt.
And the 31-year-old winger insists doing so would be considered a genuine badge of honour by his team-mates.
"It matters to us," he said. "We have always gone down to the last couple of games in 10th spot or just outside the top 10, but never finished there.
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"I remember the last game a couple of seasons ago against Wigan when a win, which we should have got, would have meant a top-half finish."
Stoke lost 1-0 that day, but Etherington added: "That's how close we have been without doing it yet. I think we deserve it because of our consistency over the years.
"We are now on 33 points with 12 games left, so I'd like to think we could get to the 45 to 50-point mark. That should get us really close to the top 10."
Etherington himself is back towards his very best form after helping to inspire last weekend's win over Reading.
His only bugbear is his failure to score a goal since his winner against Norwich on March 3 last year.
"The manager and the coaches, and even some of the other lads, have been reminding me I haven't scored this year," he admitted.
"I haven't had that many chances, to be fair, but I'd like to get on the scoresheet at least a couple of times before the end of the season."
Etherington acknowledges his general form has been steadily improving after recovering from a spell on the fringes earlier in the season.
He has started every Premier League game for Stoke bar their New Year's Day defeat at Manchester City since November 10, and said: "I feel I have been getting there in recent weeks. I've got quite a few 90 minutes under my belt and I am feeling fitter and stronger than I have for a long time. On and off the field, I've never been happier."