Soccer: Avoiding relegation remains Swansea's priority - Clement - Metro US

Soccer: Avoiding relegation remains Swansea’s priority – Clement

Britain Soccer Football - Swansea City v Burnley - Premier League - Liberty Stadium - 4/3/17 Swansea City manager Paul Clement celebrates after Swansea City's Fernando Llorente (not pictured) scores their third goal Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic

(Reuters) – Swansea City manager Paul Clement said securing the club’s Premier League status for next season remains his top priority and reminded his in-form side that things can go awry quickly for teams involved in the relegation battle.

Swansea have won five of their last eight league games, a run of form which has propelled the Welsh club from the depths of the table up to 16th, five points ahead of the bottom three with 11 games remaining.

“Our target is to finish 17th or above, nothing more than that,” Clement told reporters on Thursday when asked if Swansea can manage a top-half finish.

“At any time the gaps (between teams) can change, both for us and against us. It is still very close and those gaps can change at any time, both for you and against you.”

Fernando Llorente, who is the club’s top scorer with 11 goals this season, has excelled under Clement’s stewardship and the manager said he ranks the Spain striker among the best headers of the ball in world football.

“When you get crosses in, he is very, very good,” the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich assistant added.

“Of the other players I have worked with, (Cristiano) Ronaldo is fantastic in the air, (Gareth) Bale is good, then you have John Terry and (Sergio) Ramos who do well when they go forward. But Llorente is a wonderful header of the ball.”

Swansea will be without full-back Kyle Naughton, who is nursing a minor hamstring injury, for Saturday’s trip to face relegation rivals Hull City, while midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng and winger Jefferson Montero will have late fitness tests.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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