Captain Noble fit and ready for Hammers' pre-season opener
A fit and ready Mark Noble says West Ham United cannot wait to kick-off the first of their six pre-season fixtures on Monday evening.
The Hammers welcome Austrian third-tier club SK Sturm Graz II to their Bad Waltersdorf training base, with Noble and company relishing the prospect of putting the bibs and cones away and pulling on their 2017/18 Umbro kit for the first time.
For the skipper, it will be a welcome return to action after he missed the final two Premier League matches of last season to undergo abdominal surgery.
“The operation went really well and I’ve trained every day and been involved in everything since we’ve been back, so I feel really good,” he began.
“Obviously, it was a little bit worrying at the end of last season, but I feel much better for it now.”
The operation went really well and I’ve trained every day and been involved in everything since we’ve been back, so I feel really good
The captain and his Hammers teammates are expected to play 45 minutes each as Slaven Bilic eases his squad into action ahead of their opening Super Sunday showdown at Manchester United on 13 August.
Noble is looking forward to lining up alongside new boy Pablo Zabaleta for the first time following the Argentina international’s arrival from two-time Premier League champions Manchester City.
“Pablo has come straight in and it’s been like he’s been here a long time,” the No16 observed. “He obviously gets the respect from the lads for what he has achieved in the game already.
“He’s been at one of the biggest clubs in the world and won the Premier League and other trophies, so we know he’s a very good player.
“He’s got a good bunch of lads here, the Spanish boys [to speak with in his mother tongue] and Manu [Lanzini] who is also Argentinian, so they get on really well and he’s slotted in like he’s been here for years.
“He’s a great addition to the team and brings a lot of experience. It’s good for me to have another experienced player here and someone who knows the game and I’m pretty sure he’ll be a really good player for us.”
Coverage from the Thermenstadion begins at 5.25pm BST on Premier Sports for supporters in the UK. Fans can also follow the game on Twitter at @westhamutd. A full report, reaction and highlights will be available on whufc.com.