Thomas Hitzlsperger confident of West Ham success

Thomas Hitzlsperger is confident that West Ham will avoid relegation and even thinks a place in the FA Cup final is not beyond the club's grasp after last night's fifth round hammering of Burnley.

After six months out with a serious thigh injury, Hitzlsperger finally made his Hammers debut last night at Upton Park.

The German could not have expected his bow to have gone any better as he opened the scoring with a blistering 25-yard strike to set his team on their way to a 5-1 win.

The East London outfit have struggled without Hitzlsperger since he was ruled out after picking up a thigh injury in Germany's match against Denmark last August.

Despite enjoying good runs in both cup competitions, West Ham have constantly struggled to stay afloat in the league and have spent the majority of the season in the relegation zone.

They currently sit 19th in the division ahead of Sunday's match against in-form Liverpool but Hitzlsperger is optimistic about his side's chances of survival.

"Our target is to stay in the Premier League. This season has been up and down really but we have to try to stay in the league and remain positive," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to the next few months and if I stay fit, which I will, then we have a good chance of staying up because this is a good group and we all fancy our chances.

"I'm optimistic about our chances of staying in the league and after the performance against Burnley, we have a chance of getting to the cup final too."

West Ham have buckled under pressure at times this season but Hitzlsperger insists that the squad will be able to deal with the pressure that will come against playing the likes of Stoke, Tottenham and Manchester United in the next few weeks.

"If you talk to the teams around us in the League, I think most of them would say we shouldn't be in that position," the 28-year-old said in the London Evening Standard.

"We have some good players here. I see it in training but you have to do it when it really matters.

"The pressure is huge and when you're down there near the bottom, it's hard to escape. The quality is there but we needed a boost in confidence which this win has provided.

"We have matches against good teams coming up, starting with Liverpool on Sunday but I believe we should approach it in a positive manner."

Hitzlsperger was initially only ruled out for eight weeks but ended up being sidelined for six months after the thigh muscle that he had originally injured came off the bone completely during training.

The midfielder, who left Lazio for Upton Park last summer, tried to remain positive during his time out.

He said: "It was tough when I first found out that the injury would take up to six months to heal but I wasn't frustrated.

"I tried to be positive and professional to get back as quick as possible.

"That, I think, was the reason why I was able to come back."

The midfielder received a standing ovation from the home support, who have nicknamed him 'Der Hammer', when he was replaced after 72 minutes.

The nickname was particularly apt given the ferocious pace with which he dispatched his strike and he was delighted to mark his debut with a goal and a man of the match performance.

He added: "I have been waiting for this day for a long time and to start off with such a goal and such a good win like we had, it couldn't have been better.

"It was a trademark goal. It's funny that it came off in the first game for the club.

"I played well but there are a lot of big games coming up now and I now hope I can do the same again."

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