Mark Noble signed off West Ham United's week of pre-season work in Germany with a smile.

As the midfielder left for the airport on Sunday evening along with his team-mates to come back home, he said it had been a productive week and was great preparation for the forthcoming season.

Noble captained the side against FC Energie Cottbus in Hammers' final match of their German pre-season tour in the absence of skipper Kevin Nolan, who was rested as he continues to recover from a toe injury. The match saw West Ham come from 2-0 down to draw through second-half goals from Colin Kazim-Richards and Sam Baldock.

For current Hammer of the Year Noble, the week of training and matches was of great benefit.

"It has been a good week for us," he said. "I think for working on our fitness and with the three games we have played in six days.

"We had a win, a loss and a draw, but results don't really matter at this stage. It is all about getting fitter but the games are important as when we approach the start of the season, the match fitness side comes to the fore."

Noble said the matches gave everyone a chance to play either a full game or the right amount of minutes depending on their individual circumstances.

"The teams we played are about a week away from starting their season. So in the game against FC Energie Cottbus, we went 2-0 down but credit to the younger boys who came on, because we got back to 2-2. Everyone worked really hard and we showed even at this stage, we have reached a good level of fitness.

"By the time we are in the same position in just over two weeks, to be preparing for Aston Villa, we will be at a better level again."

Noble said that on and off the pitch, the trip was good for a team morale.

"The trip has been worthwhile as everyone back together and we had a couple of new faces with us while some of the younger boys who settled in really well. We're back home now and ready to crack on as the season gets nearer.

"We have worked hard - double sessions and work in the pool and cycling as well as normal training, but we had a laugh when the time was right. Spending time together as a squad for a meal outside of the hotel one evening and having a hour or so to cycle into the town in Dresden, to have a coffee together, were both good for the team spirit.

"There is already lots of banter flying around which can only get better - or worse in some cases of a few people - as the season goes on!"

Noble is now looking forward to the final stages of pre-season, which will see the Hammers take on Ipswich Town and SC Braga in their closing two preparation fixtures.

"We have two tough games coming up before we finish the pre-season schedule. At the end of those games, we will hope to be at the stage we want to as we look forward to the first game of the new season.

"It is nice to get these matches in before we begin and hopefully as we approach the first game, we will have a couple more new faces again to strengthen us and we will be ready on all fronts to start on a positive note."

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