After ending a fivemonth stint in the bottom three of the Premiership last Sunday courtesy of Paul Robinson's dramatic equaliser at Aston Villa, it would be most untimely were West Bromwich Albion to make a swift return to the relegation zone this weekend.

But that is precisely the scenario for which Albion are preparing, as their fixture with Blackburn Rovers has been rearranged for April 26 due to the visitors' FA Cup semi-final - meaning the Baggies must wait until Wednesday before returning to league action at Tottenham Hotspur.

In the meantime, Southampton and Crystal Palace will be able to move out of the drop zone at Albion's expense on Saturday if they beat Aston Villa or Norwich City respectively.

With Saints only one point behind Albion, a draw at home to Villa will see Harry Redknapp's side climb to 17th as they have the better goal difference.

Consequently, Albion's assistant manager Nigel Pearson has warned the club's players to expect to find themselves back in the relegation zone come Saturday evening.

Pearson said: " We're delighted for the players that their hard work and efforts over a considerable time have borne fruit in terms of being able to see the rewards of clawing out of the bottom three.

"Psychologically, it is good to get out of the bottom three for the first time in a while, but we may have to do it again.

"To be realistic, what we have to deal with is the prospect of probably being back in there by the next time we play and that's not being defeatist."

By preparing Albion's players for the worst, Pearson knows they will be further pumped up for their match at Spurs should Saints and Palace slip up this weekend.

It is another example of Pearson ' s impressive man-management skills and innovative coaching methods which have made a significant impact at Albion.

Despite the tremendous progress made at the club in recent months, Pearson is not about to become carried away and jeopardise Albion's survival objective.

He added: "It's going to be tight and we've got a difficult run-in but we've given ourselves a fighting chance.

"There has been a change around the training ground and we want to keep that going.

"We've got a spirit, the players have got a belief in themselves and each other, which is great, but we know it will be a difficult task."

While Pearson and the remainder of Albion's staff plot what they hope will be a promising future in the Premiership, one player resigned to not contributing is Rob Hulse.

The 25-year-old striker, who was the club's top scorer last season, is on loan at Leeds United.

Hulse says he wants to earn a permanent move, as he has been told he has no future at The Hawthorns. The ex-Crewe Alexandra man, who has scored six goals in nine matches for Leeds, said: "I don't know which club I'll be with next season, but I've really enjoyed my experience here at Leeds. "[Manager] Kevin Blackwell and his team have shown faith in me when others have doubted me, especially having been out for so long at West Brom.

"I do really like it here and I hope we can come to some agreement because I know I've not got a future with West Brom. I've known that since Christmas through a few things the chairman Jeremy Peace has said to me, but that's football.

"This club feels right for me and I can see next season being really exciting and I want to be part of that."