Neil McDonald is looking forward to Saturday's Barlcays Premier League visit of Newcastle United for more than one reason.

Not only are the Hammers back on home turf and aiming to consolidate their top-ten position in the table, but the assistant manager comes up against a club for whom he played 206 games.

With manager Sam Allardyce and former Magpies duo Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan also preparing to face their old employers, West Ham are sure to be well motivated to put one over the relegation-threatened Geordies.

First of all Neil, is there any injury news as all?

NMc: "No, nothing new from last week. We've almost got a fully fit squad to choose from, so there's good competition for places."

At the start of the season if we'd have offered you where you are in the league now, what would your reaction have been?

NMc: "We'd have snapped both hands off really. I think we've had a fantastic season so far, and to be in a position where you're almost safe with three games to go, and with a chance to put the points on board to get mathematically there is great."

I've heard some good tales about how Sam has kept players motivated when they've been safe with a few weeks to go, telling them if they win on Saturday they're off until Thursday - things like that. What's he doing here at the moment to keep them motivated?

NMc: "He has actually done that once this season and we've had a fantastic response. Physically their levels went up, so it does work. They've been working really, really hard in training and games for nine months, so to have a little break, as long as they're not abusing their bodies, means they come back fresh. We find that the work-rate and intensity goes up, so it does work."

How excited is Andy Carroll about this weekend?

NMc: "He and Kevin Nolan are looking forward to the game. They've got some fantastic memories from their experiences at Newcastle, With Andy being a young kid coming through the ranks and Kevin having the success of putting them back where they belong after a relegation, they're really looking forward to the game."

Is it right that the England management, as we understand it, are keeping a close eye on Andy at the moment?

NMc: "I think they should. He's in good goalscoring form, and in good form itself. His contribution to the team and interlink play has been really good and that's reflected in our results.

What sort of game do you expect?

NMc: "I think it'll be a tough one. I think they'll come and keep it nice and tight. They're on the verge of getting involved [in the relegation battle], but personally I think they've got enough points. They'll try to keep a clean sheet and get something on the counter attack."

Do you like it when you hear tales that your opponents might not be completely pulling in the right direction? Do you see that as an opportunity that you can take advantage of?

NMc: "We try to concentrate on our own team really. Our atmosphere and team spirit around the place is definitely pulling in the right direction. It's always difficult when you sign players who come into the club from foreign parts. to get them used to the culture and how the manager wants to play. That takes time to settle in. I think when they [Newcastle's January signings] first came in they hit the ground running. They've just gone through a little sticky patch at the minute and I'm sure they'll come through it, just after Saturday!"

Winston Reid signed a new deal this week, how big a boost is that?

NMc: "It's a brilliant boost, he's been our most consistent defender this season and he thoroughly deserves his new contract. From when we first came here two years ago there's been a vast improvement in all aspects of his game. Maybe he could get a couple more goals from set plays, but on the whole he's been tremendously consistent."

Wembley will have an all-German final in the UEFA Champions League. Is there anything you've seen in the background coaching and looking at other methods and models that we can learn from German football?

NMc: "I think organisation and players knowing their roles and responsibilities has shone through, especially watching Bayern Munich. I saw them in the earlier round against Arsenal, and they did to them what Arsenal do to a lot of Premier League teams. They certainly played well on Wednesday night and I think it'll be a fascinating final. Bayern Munich have the best form coming into it and will start favourites."

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