Nigel Looks Ahead

Nigel Winterburn admits that he faces an emotional time ahead as he prepares to face his old club Arsenal on Wednesday - and leave West Ham next month.

Hot on the heels of the notice he was given that his contract at Upton Park is not to be renewed, he faces his Arsenal, with whom he spent his halycon days for so many years, for probably the last time on Wednesday.

If, as he expects, he is going to drop in into the first division next season, this week will represent his final goodbye to Highbury.

"It will be emotional," he admits, "it is my old club, and difficult because they are going for the championship."

Not only is he bidding goodbye to the Gooners on his old hunting ground, but, as it seems to be a farewell to top flight football, the clock is ticking on his Premiership days.

"I said when we announced my imminent departure that I had four games left and now there are three, so we shall see," he says.

"I'd much rather not have had the conversation, and still be here next season; I have stated that on a number of occasions and it still hasn't changed, but once the decision is made it is very hard to alter it, so you just have to accept it, be professional, and that is what I'm trying to do."

Nigel feels that the Hammers can get something from the game and adds:

"We are playing really well so we go there with a strong belief in ourselves and in a positive frame of mind.

"We know Arsenal are one of the top teams, and the title race is so close with them all winning at the weekend, but something has to give somewhere - SI could be a bit biased but they don't look like losing it."

* Glen Johnson helped England U19s to a 2-1 win over Lithuania on Sunday - which means they will go through to the European championships this summer.