As one would expect, West Bromwich Albion are still projecting a bullish approach regarding their chances of avoiding relegation.

However, on the pitch they had the look of condemned men during the last 15 minutes against Bolton Wanderers on Monday evening.

There was certainly no lack of toil and graft in a vain attempt to curtail their dreadful run of form.

The self-belief that they so desperately crave is evidently lacking, though, while they have developed an unhealthy phobia about performing in front of their own fans.

The solitary point gained against Bolton was their fourth out of a potential 32 on offer from The Hawthorns in 2006.

Six points have been collected on their road trips, as manager Bryan Robson has devised a formation that is set up to counter-attacking football.

On that basis, Albion can approach their last two away fixtures with a certain degree of confidence: they face a Newcastle side shorn of Alan Shearer, Shola Ameobi and Michael Owen, while Everton, on the final day of the campaign, will have nothing to play for except pride.

And if West Ham reach the FA Cup final, then they will surely treat their trip to The Hawthorns purely as a glorified training exercise.

So, despite their parlous position, there is still cause for a glimmer of optimism among the Albion regulars. Yet the evidence points towards Championship football next season.

Since beating Blackburn 2-0 on February 4, they have pocketed a paltry three points. Albion's assistant manager Nigel Pearson addressed the assembled press courteously after the Bolton fixture, but there was a bristling, defiant, edge to his answers.

He said: "Don't expect anyone here to give up the ghost as it isn't going to happen.

"It was a missed opportunity tonight in some ways, but you have got to keep going. They are a difficult side to play against and broke the game up well, so it was difficult to build up any momentum.

"The players are very disappointed that we didn't win but it is that stage of the season where we have got to keep going and try to win every game.

"I don't know (if we will need to win every game). It's a possibility, but we are going to try to win every game anyway. Whether we need to or not, I don't know.

"The difference between this year and last year is that one of the sides has produced championship form, which has made it very difficult to keep up with.

"Fair play to Portsmouth, as they have set a very high standard, but we are still in with a shout."

With Portsmouth entertaining the already-relegated Sunderland this weekend, then a defeat for Albion at Newcastle could result in the shout becoming a whisper.

It is still unclear whether Nathan Ellington will play any part in the fixture at St James' Park, with questions about his bruised toe drawing a guarded response from Pearson.

Whatever formation Robson plumps for against Newcastle, it is clear that Albion's spirit is still intact despite their dreadful run of results. A collective spirit is a pre-requisite that will only enhance their slim chances of avoiding demotion.

"We are focused on ourselves as we have a great bunch of lads here and we will keep ourselves together," said Albion's robust left-back, Paul Robinson.

"We have been through the mill and I am getting a few grey hairs, like I was last year.

"We would be happy for it to go to the last game and we will keep fighting until the end."