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Saturday 13 April Updated Thursday 19 February

Big Sam hails Jussi influence

West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce has praised the contribution of Jussi Jaaskelainen in the club's first season back in the Barclays Premier League.

37-year-old keeper Jaaskelainen was a summer arrival on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers and kept a clean sheet in last weekend's battling 0-0 draw at Southampton.

It was a continuation of the Finn's fine form in recent weeks and Allardyce has been impressed with the No22.

He said: "There's no doubt that we've got the value from signing Jussi. All in all we wanted Robert Green to stay, but in the end we all felt his demands were too much for ourselves.

"He moved on to QPR, Jussi came in and I knew about his ability because I'd worked with him for so long at Bolton. The thing we didn't know was if he had the drive, the determination to put that ability back into this league again.

"He'd been bombed out by Owen Coyle, he hadn't been selected for most of that season, but certainly after pre-season training and getting himself back into the groove he's been a great acquisition for us.

"The goalkeeper and your goalscorers are the two biggest positions you have to fill in the team, then the centre halves and the centre midfield players - the core of your team.

"He's done a great job for us this season. I think he's a young 37, he's never suffered too many injuries or operations, which is a good sign."

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