Pardew presses squad to stay up with pace

Alan Pardew, the West Ham manager, believes his side can remain in the thick of the promotion chase after they moved into fourth place in the Coca-Cola Championship by beating Rotherham on Tuesday night.

Alan Pardew, the West Ham manager, believes his side can remain in the thick of the promotion chase after they moved into fourth place in the Coca-Cola Championship by beating Rotherham on Tuesday night.

When Pardew took over at Upton Park midway through last season the Hammers had already lost realistic touch with with the automatic promotion places and they lost out to Crystal Palace in the play-offs for promotion to the Premiership.

Pardew knows his side cannot afford to slip off the pace this season and, having reshaped West Ham into a side he is confident can win the Championship, his confidence will be put to the test when they play promotion rivals Ipswich on Saturday.

"The goal for us against Rotherham was to get three points and set up the Ipswich game. We'll have a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday," Pardew said yesterday. "I felt a lot of our frustration last season came from the fact we were so far behind the top two, but no one has got away from us as yet this season. I am hoping we stay patient. The crowd were terrific last night, they could see we were trying to break Rotherham down the right way, not just bashing them."

Eventually Matthew Etherington's free-kick earned West Ham the reward their endeavours deserved. Pardew blooded four new players on Tuesday, with centre-backs Calum Davenport and Malky Mackay, full-back Chris Powell and midfielder Carl Fletcher all making their debuts, leaving Hayden Mullins and Rufus Brevett relegated to the bench.

"We have a squad good enough to win this league," Pardew said. "It poses me a few questions for Ispwich. I did speak to Mullins and Brevett and, obviously, they were not pleased, they want to play for West Ham. It is important those heads don't go down and that they push me to play them.

"It's all very well having players with reputations but there is another vital ingredient that all successful teams need and that is spirit, a desire to fight back when things aren't going your way."

Powell, the former England international whom Pardew brought in on loan from Charlton, stressed his commitment to winning promotion: "Sometimes you don't realise what sort of club this is; I have watched a number of games here over the years and my late dad supported West Ham back in the Sixties," Powell said. "He would have been really proud of me and I had a lump in my throat just before kick-off. I have made it here in the end and I am sure he was somewhere looking down on me.

"We have had some great times over the years with winning trophies and one day we will get back to that."

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