Kevin Nolan has hailed West Ham United's strength in depth following Saturday's 4-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Southampton at the Boleyn Ground.
Injuries to six first-team players saw James Tomkins and Yossi Benayoun drafted in to the starting XI by manager Sam Allardyce, while Mali striker Modibo Maiga bagged his first Barclays Premier League goal after being sent on as a second-half substitute.
While the Hammers started slowly and went in goalless at half-time, the captain said the combined contribution of the recalled players and the remaining regular starters proves the club has the depth to cope with the absence of key players. Tomkins produced a composed display on his return to the starting line-up at right-back, while Benayoun highlighted a lively display by providing the assist for Nolan's 48th-minute goal.
"To be fair, I thought we were below par in the first half. Southampton came out and did really well," Nolan told West Ham TV. "I thought they were superb and got to more second balls than we did. We got a bit of a rollocking at half-time and tried to come our and up our game and within a few minutes we were two-nil up.
"It was a good reaction from the boys in the second half. It was a bit disappointing to concede a goal and let them back it but overall and in the end I thought we deserved our victory.
"It was a real team effort. We have got a good work ethic and squad ethic and I think you saw that on Saturday. With the depth we've got in the squad now, we were able to bring in players like James Tomkins, who is going to go on and get full international honours, and another full international in Yossi Benayoun who has been at all the top clubs.
"They were waiting in the wings and itching for their chance and they have taken it. It's fantastic for them. Nobes (Mark Noble) had another big game and the big man (Andy Carroll) has taken a bit of a battering but that's what he does for the team. If he's not on form or getting the goals or setting things up, he still makes things happen by getting free-kicks. I thought he was fantastic, even though he himself thinks he was below par."
After a lacklustre first-half display, West Ham's players received a stirring team talk from manager Sam Allardyce and captain Nolan at the break. To a man, the players upped their performance after the break and were rewarded by going two goals up within three minutes of the restart.
"Yes, I am captain and I enjoy all that but to be fair the lads are a good bunch and they respond to the right things. We have got a good understanding and I think the lads know what I'm like and we are all enjoying playing at the moment.
"After the Arsenal game we were a bit disappointed to have come off the pitch with a 3-1 defeat but now, when you look at it, fourteen points from eight games is a very, very good start."
While Noble scored twice and Nolan netted his fourth league goal of the campaign, victory was capped by an outstanding individual strike from Maiga. The No11 has now scored on all three of his starts for the Hammers and the skipper is predicting big things to come from the former FC Sochaux-Montbeliard forward as he settles into life in a new country.
"I think his talent is fantastic and there to admire. He is still learning English and it is tough for these lads when they first come over and don't speak the language and everything. You could see all the lads were buzzing for him. It was a fantastic finish and we're all delighted for him.
"In time and over the season as he gets settled in more and more and his Engilsh gets better, I think you'll see an even better player. I'm delighted for him because his first Premier League goal is a big, big thing.
"He could have had one in the first game of the season [against Aston Villa] which could have catapulted him, but I'm absolutely delighted for him because it's well-deserved. He's waited patiently and he'll go on and hopeful;y score a few more goals for us."
Maiga may have to wait for his first Barclays Premier League start, but his form will see him come into consideration when West Ham travel to Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
The Latics have failed to win a home fixture so far this season and, while Nolan knows nothing will come easy at the DW Stadium, the No4 believes the Hammers are more than capable of achieving their second away success of 2012/13.
"At the end of the day, we've got to enjoy this win and then go back to the drawing board on Tuesday. We'll look over everything we did well and everything we did poorly on Saturday on the video and then look forward to Wigan.
"Hopefully we can go into that game and give another solid performance and come away with three points. Fourteen points from eight games is fantastic but seventeen from nine would be even better!"