After playing a key role in a comfortable start to life back in the Barclays Premier League, Mark Noble believes he has seen enough to cautiously raise his hopes for the season.

The West Ham United midfielder took part in an engaging press conference with the national media on Saturday to round off an action-packed week that saw him sign a new long-term contract and captain a young side against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday. Before looking ahead to Monday evening's fixture at Queens Park Rangers, he started by recapping how much a new deal at his boyhood club means.

"As I explained when I signed my new contract earlier this week, I wanted it to be right for me and my family," Noble said. "Everyone says it is a big decision to make and it was, but I am enjoying my football and think I am probably playing the best football I have done in a long time.

"When myself and the club came to the agreement and it all got ironed out, I was more than happy to sign. I love it here and where I live with my family so it was a no- brainer in the end for me to sign."

While survival must be the first objective of any newly-promoted team, Noble believes that there is no reason why the reinforced West Ham United squad cannot look to maintain their current top-ten position come May. Monday night's game at Loftus Road will provide another chance for some of the Hammers' high-profile summer recruits to catch the eye of manager Sam Allardyce.

"I was speaking to someone in pre-season and they were saying how big a club we are. I know that and you only have to look at our fanbase. But maybe there were questions before why we weren't as big as we should be.

"Now, if you look at who we have brought in this season - the likes of Andy Carroll, Matt Jarvis and Momo Diame - on top of the good players we have here already, then you can see the club is going in the right direction.

"We got promoted last year from the Championship and it is a tough league. Look at the teams that have gone down and to get back up straight away is a massive ask. We did that and now it is time for the club to go to the next level. By bringing in the quality players we have, the Chairmen and the gaffer are making that happen and long may it continue."

Canning Town-born Noble is thriving in the new holding role that Allardyce moved him to last season, a decision that contributed to the No16 being named Hammer of the Year and selected in the PFA Championship Team of the Year by his peers.

"I enjoy the position I play. I like getting on the ball trying to help us play and also breaking up the opposing team's attack. I have played under a few managers and a few different shapes and I enjoyed it when I played further forward but I have converted back to a holding midfielder, which allows me to tackle and get on the ball.

"One of our analysts here at the club told me that until recently, I had made the most tackles in the Premier League this season. I just want to keep on making the spoils, winning the ball for the team and you can see we are playing exciting football so it is really enjoyable playing in this team.

"I think we have a good balance in the side - Nobby [Kevin Nolan] likes to get into the box and scoring goals and I am there to sit back and let him go forward and score those important goals. Momo [Diame] runs about everywhere and gets involved, so it is a good mix."

Noble says he has been lucky to have been able to learn from some of the best in his developing years at the club.

"I played alongside Scott Parker for a few seasons and then there has been Carlos [Tevez] Teddy [Sheringham] and Bellars [Craig Bellamy]. Even though these players are not in my role, you just learn from being around them.

"You learn how to express yourself as a player. I want to play my own game and as I said, am really enjoying my football here."

While doing his best for his club is foremost in his mind, Noble is also ambitious to add a senior England national team cap to his youth and Under-21 caps, something his father, Mark Noble Senior, would certainly embrace.

"One hundred per cent yes. I am only still 25 and as you know, there are often many late-comers in terms of age to the national side. I am hoping if I can keep playing to the levels I am that it might happen sooner rather later.

"I know my dad also would be very happy - he travels all over the country to watch me play and loves his football, so after making my mark at West Ham, he would obviously love me to put on the England shirt in the senior national side.

"I feel as fit and strong as I have ever done, but I am always looking to improve. I think both mentally and physically I am a better player than I was two or three years ago and so hopefully that call-up will come along.

"Here at West Ham, I feel we have enough in us to aim and finish as high as we can and go in the direction that club should be and push on from there."

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