Defoe's Debut Delight

As Jermain Defoe prepares for his Premiership debut he says he hopes Fredi Kanoute can be as good for his game as Steve Fletcher was at Bournemouth!

Jermain, who will be on the bench at Middlesbrough, says he has thoroughly enjoyed playing as one half of a 'Little and Large' duo.

"I've done it with big Fletch at Bournemouth and it worked really well playing off a tall lad who wins the aerial balls," he says.

"Fredi is a great player and a big lad as well; he is also mad - I would like to think we could have a partnership."

Jermain was awarded his young Hammer of the year recognition at Chadwell Heath on Friday, voted for by the coaches in recognition of his fine season at Bournemouth on loan, not to mention one goal in just 15 minutes of action for West Ham in the Worthington cup against Walsall.

He knows that the emergence of Svetoslav Todorov will create options up front for the new manager, and says:

"Toddy has come in and done well making chances - football is all about competition, isn't it?"

It hasn't been a bad week for Jermain, who has been called up, along with Steve Bywater, for the latest England U21 squad.

"I got a letter from the U18 manager but now I've been told to be in the U21s - when he told me I couldn't believe it," he admits.

It follows on from the previous week's disappointment at missing out on the play offs with Bournemouth because of a last minute equalizer by Reading, and then learning of Harry Redknapp's departure from the club, and he says:

"I was shocked to see Harry leave but training has been good this week and Glenn Roeder has worked with England, so he has got good ideas.

"Every player at the club is waiting to see what happens as all managers have different ideas but I just want to get my head down.

"Everyone at Bournemouth was disappointed at missing out, and I couldn't believe it when they got the third - all the heads went down.

"Then Steve Purches, who played for West Ham once, nearly got the winner late on; he is doing well there after coming back from a hamstring.

"It was definitely the biggest disappointment of my career.

"The manager had said if we play well and don't win the game he'll be happy; I thought we had the game won but all their goals were from set pieces."

It does mean he is available for the Middlesbrough game, though, and he adds:

"At the time you don't think about it you just think about the game you are playing, I only thought about it on the way home.

"Now I have to focus on West Ham and working hard, though it would have been nice to experience the playoffs.

"I thanked everyone for the opportunity of playing at Bournemouth, and I have learned a lot being there, so it has helped me.

"I don't think I'm starting tomorrow, I'll be on the bench, but I'm delighted about that; if I play a part I'll do my best and if I get a goal it will be a bonus."

Had Manchester City not already been relegated by virtue of a defeat at Ipswich, Middlesbrough would have needed a point against the Hammers to be sure of staying up.

That, in turn, would have meant Defoe might not have got his chance at the Riverside.  

"I knew that if Manchester City had won at Ipswich we would have had to put our strongest side out, so I was pleased Matt Holland scored the equalizer," he says.

"Now I'm looking forward to Premiership action; I've spoken to Joe and other players and they say it's not too bad,  I'm just glad I've got my experience at Bournemouth.

"Probably the lower leagues are more physical, but maybe the Premiership is quicker."

Meanwhile, Fredi says he is quite content about staying at Upton Park despite the upheaval.

"I'm aware there are a lot of rumours about West Ham players who may have the desire to leave the club after Harry Redknapp's resignation," he says.

"I don't actually know whether Frank Lampard is going to leave, but it'll be a shame if our squad doesn't stay together for next season; we have played some impressive games together.

"Just remember our FA Cup ties against Man United and Sunderland or our win against Leeds - but the strange thing is that one week later, we weren't able to play at the same level, as if it was a totally different team playing with the same players.

"I look forward to next season and I'm happy with West Ham; I don't want to leave the club because one player or another one is leaving - as far as I'm concerned, I only know that I'll resume the training with West Ham on 11 July.

"As for the new man, I don't really mind an attack minded manager or a defensive one but what I want from a manager is someone with a good tactical brain and someone who can manage to build a nice atmosphere in the squad and who has confidence in me."