Nigel Determined

Nigel Winterburn returns to the fold this weekend determined his long illustrious career will not be sullied by relegation.

Looking ahead to the clash with second from bottom Bolton, he says:

"I think it is going to be my last season in the Premiership, and probably my last in football, so it is frustrating at the moment.

"I have had two and a half fantastic years here and I want to leave West Ham in the Premier League - and I still believe we will do that.

"Whether I play on or not, I would be tremendously disappointed if I was to leave here and we weren't still in the top division.

"I hope things will change and I have every confidence that we will be there at the end."

Nigel returns to action after missing the trip to Old Trafford with a hamstring injury, and is in a squad that includes Don Hutchison and Fredi Kanoute.

As elder statesman, he might have expected to be handed the captaincy at Middlesbrough when he last played, but that was given to Joe Cole in the absence of Paolo Di Canio and Steve Lomas.

Joe continues as captain despite the return to action of Steve last week, but Glenn Roeder says:

"Steve is still club captain, but I thought it would do Joe good as a player and a person."

And Nigel agrees:

"I think it is a good idea, actually; Joe has come up through the youth system so he has always been at West Ham.

"I wouldn't say I wouldn't want the armband, it would be an honour, but I think it is better if it is given to someone who has been here a lot longer than me - that is only fair.

"I am coming to the end of my career and Joe is just starting his, although he has already been playing a couple of seasons.

"I haven't any problems with it, good luck to him - and I hope he can keep it.

"He works tremendously hard, though I am not sure if his goal against Middlesbrough was a shot or a cross!"

As for that game, he adds:

"We were disappointed in the dressing room, but really delighted with the way we have played; we really went at Middlesbrough on their own patch and showed we were really willing to fight for the club.

"The players have put us in this position bottom of the league and we want to move away from that.

"If we keep showing the sort of desire we did that day, then we will move up.

"I would rather win any game and if it meant playing badly, so be it, but the important thing is when you look at the performances, and the fact that we keep creating, we believe it is going to turn around.

"Sometimes when you are at the bottom of the league things go wrong - but it is up to us as a group of players to make sure they go right.

"We are willing to fight for the club - and that is what we are going to do."

SQUAD: James, Bywater, Forde, Schemmel, Repka, Dailly, Breen, Winterburn, Sinclair, Lomas, Carrick, Ferdinand, Cole, Defoe, Pearce, Johnson, Moncur, Hutchison, Sofiane, Camara, Iriekpen, Byrne, Rahim, Courtois, Kanoute.