Boss Backs Duo

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Glenn Roeder says his disappointment at losing Paolo Di Canio to injury is tempered by his excitement at the prospect of Jermain Defoe getting an extended run in the side alongside Fredi Kanoute.

"With the unfortunate injury to Paolo Di Canio - and we are all dreadfully upset about him picking that up against Charlton - it gives Defoe an opportunity now to play with Fredi Kanoute for at least four games, and possibly all five, depending on the seriousness of Paolo's injury," he says.

"If he does play in all five it will give those two a real run in the team to see what they can do as a partnership.

"I think everyone at the club is interested to see how they do as a starting pair. Jermain has been very patient this year, waiting for a run in the team.

"He has had three games when Paolo had the suspension and acquitted himself very well, but this gives him a longer run in the team at an important time of the year.

"And I am hoping Fredi will carry on playing the way he has just recently, playing well and scoring goals.

"His contribution this year has been immense, and if you look at Fredi's career he is still a relatively inexperienced player who is learning all the time.

"He has certainly had a better season this year than last year, and I am confident he will do even better again next season."

Glenn is perturbed by comment in one or two sections of the media following the Ipswich game, implying there was anything but a good relationship between Fredi and the fans.

"I have been disappointed with the suggestion that he has become a target of some of the fans at Upton Park - I don't believe that to be true, and feel it has been taken out of all proportion," says Glenn.

"I know that even this week many supporters are still very upset by it and are very supportive of Fredi Kanoute. Anyone who is scoring a goal every two games at Premiership level is a big player at that club.

"Fredi is a very, very big and important player at West Ham, and in my opinion he is getting better all the time both with age and experience - and I am really looking forward to what Fredi does for us next year.

"It was one game, against Ipswich, where he had a couple of chances in the game, but there was absolutely no booing from the stands. There might have been some groans but if anyone misses a goal, whether it is Paolo, Jermain, Joe, or anyone else, you get groans that come out of a stand - as you do at any ground in the country.

"I think the whole thing has been taken out of context. I know that our supporters are very much behind Fredi - and they should be.

"Since he has been at West Ham he has done amazingly well and has been a fantastic signing. He is a joy to work with, has a lovely personality, and I feel especially in the last three or four weeks he has been ever so motivated, and has worked hard in the games to get his just rewards with some goals.

"With five games to go, and a goal every two game, I'd like to think there are another two or three goals in him, and hopefully he will find the net on Saturday.

"And, with the little fellow working with him, there are the makings of a very good partnership in terms of what the two of them can bring to the team.

"The fans are behind him and what has got to be important for Fredi - and I have got to know his character very well this year - is that the other people who count are behind him.

"I'm behind him, the coaching staff are behind him, and his own players are right behind him.

"He is very well respected in the dressing room at Upton Park, and everyone has got a lot of time for the big man - which is vital."