George McCartney believes West Ham United are on track to be ready for the start of the Barclays Premier League season.
The Hammers were beaten 1-0 in their latest pre-season fixture at npower League Two club Oxford United on Tuesday evening, but the experienced left-back knows fitness is more important than results at this stage.
Oxford's players were clearly eager to impress against their higher-ranked visitors and, during the first half especially, the home side snapped into tackles all over the pitch. West Ham's players did not back down from the challenge, making for a competitive opening 45 minutes.
For McCartney and his team-mates, it was simply a case of ensuring they got a good workout against the U's and came home from the Kassam Stadium unscathed and ready for the more important league battles ahead.
"I think we're training well and with each match we're getting fitter and are gradually upping the game time and get ourselves prepared for the start of the season," he confirmed.
"It was a competitive game. Especially in the first half, a few players were going a bit strong in the tackles and things got a bit heated but thankfully nobody has got injured.
"We've got some more fitness work and sharpness out of the game and the passing and movement and everything else will improve over the next three or four weeks. Obviously we wanted to win the game, but the main thing was getting more fitness.
"For us, I think it's about getting as much hard work and fitness out of it as we can, but for them it's a big game and they want to prove themselves and test themselves.
"No matter what team you play against, you always want to do well and I think especially in the first half they were biting into the tackles.
"Games like this, their players want to prove themselves, but from our point of view we want to come through without getting injured and having improved our fitness. Saying that, football is a competitive game and Tuesday was a tough one and we can move on and forward to Colchester United on Saturday."