Grant: New recruits can lift West Ham

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The Independent Online

Avram Grant is convinced his January rebuilding work will see West Ham climb out of relegation danger.

The West Ham manager, who spent most of the last month fighting for his job, has added Robbie Keane, Demba Ba, Gary O'Neil and Wayne Bridge to a squad which was decimated by injuries in the first half of the season.



Now he is hoping the freshness and extra impetus which often comes from new faces will pay off immediately in three crucial Premier League games, against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Wednesday, against Birmingham at home next Sunday and away to West Brom the following Saturday.



They are matches from which West Ham must gain a significant points return if they are to cash in on the optimism of recent performances.



Grant, delighted to be through to the FA Cup fifth round after a 3-2 victory against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, said: "The squad is not bad but because of the injuries we've had we needed more players for competition and fresh legs.



"We had injuries in the first half of the season. Things didn't go for us. We were looking for players to make up the 18 on match day so it was very difficult.



"The next game is very important to us. Against Blackpool the players will give everything they have. It is important for both teams but for us it is more important.



"Then we take on Birmingham. Both are teams near to us in the table so it is vital to pick up points. We will approach those games with confidence, especially if we can sustain the football we have played in recent games."



Keane's enthusiasm could give the Hammers an immediate lift and Grant is likely to throw him straight in against Blackpool.



Whatever happens, the second half of the season is unlikely to be boring at Upton Park, especially with Victor Obinna running into goal-scoring form.



Obinna scored a hat-trick in West Ham's defeat of Forest and the 23-year-old, on loan from Inter Milan, at last began to look at home in a claret and blue shirt.



He dedicated his hat-trick to the West Ham supporters he admits he let down by being sent off in the Carling Cup semi-final against Birmingham.



"I was very stupid," Obinna said. "It happens in football but I apologise to the fans about that.



"I was mad with myself after the game because I left my team-mates with 10 men.



"I take full responsibility for that and it is definitely something that will never happen again."



The prospect of 30-year-old Keane dovetailing with Obinna and Frederic Piquionne, the Hammers' leading scorer in the league, gives Grant hope.



Grant said: "I'm really happy to have him (Keane). He can help us a lot and brings plenty of quality."



For his part, Keane, who has scored 45 goals in 104 internationals for the Republic of Ireland and is initially on loan until May, said: "I feel as fit as I ever have done in my life and I feel I have plenty left to offer at the highest level for at least the next four or five years.



"I want to help anywhere I can whether that is in training, in the dressing room or on the pitch on a match day. I am sure we can stay up."

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