Steve: I'm Not Ready

Steve Lomas has ruled himself out of involvement in Saturday's FA Cup clash at Stamford Bridge, despite making his comeback in the reserves this week.

He is taking the 'softly softly' approach rather than rushing back and, although there had been an outside chance of him returning to the squad for the trip across London, he explains: "I think that is totally unrealistic. I don't think it would be fair to the team and players that are already there.

"I wouldn't think Glenn would expect that and I don't think it would be possible as much as I would love to. The last thing I would want to do is go on and not do myself or the team justice.

"I wouldn't want that, and I couldn't forgive myself if I did it.

"I am not putting targets on a return, I'm just so glad to be back playing and training even though the weather is absolutely terrible."

He admits to being glad at seeing the end of 2001, a year spent recuperating from a knee injury, only to sustain a broken toe in his first start for the club since being out.

"I was glad to get last year over with. I had a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve and celebrated then.

"I was looking forward to the new year and especially getting rid of the old one, that's for sure.

"I'm touching all sorts of wood while I say that I would hopefully have an injury free rest of the season and do what I get paid for, which is to go out and play for West Ham.

"It was a very low blow for me when I came back to break my toe. It wasn't going to be career threatening but there was nothing I could do.

"I had six more weeks out and I just had to accept it, but it was difficult after all the hard work I had put in, and I thought 'surely this can't be happening'.

"But there are a lot worse things happen at sea, and I look at it that way.

"I have had my fair share, so hopefully I can get a little run going until the end of the season and get some games under my belt."

Steve played as a substitute at the Valley before starting against Spurs, but admits it takes a little while to get back into the swing of Premiership action.

"I didn't think I was flying," he says, "I'd done okay but it was only 70 or 80 minutes of action.

"I was disappointed in the way we were playing and to throw the game away against Charlton was also disappointing.

"I want to get five or six games for the first team but I know that will be hard in itself because the lads that are in the team have got the jerseys.

"But hopefully the worst is behind me now and I have got to fight to get my place back in the team."

Of his comeback at Upton Park against Nottingham Forest reserves, he says: "I had 70 minutes in the reserves. My toe is still slightly sore but I was told to expect that and hopefully it is something that will subside.

"It was a case of not doing anything silly for the sake of just 20 minutes after just two days' training, because I might have strained something.

"I am glad to be back because you have so many negative thoughts when you are injured, and I really enjoyed it."

Steve will once more be a reluctant observer as the Hammers look to avenge Sunday's 5-1 defeat against Chelsea, while also going some way to rectifying the away form.

By now, everyone knows that the Hammers away defensive record is in sharp contrast to the home form, and he adds: "It is a bit of a mystery because it is the exact same players, and I just don't know why it happens. Perhaps when we lose a couple of goals we lose our shape and go ragged.

"It is never good to get beaten but if you do, get beaten 2-1 or 1-0 and don't let it go to four or five, because it does sap your confidence when you are conceding a lot of goals.

"It is the best defensive record at home and the worst away, so Glenn must be pulling his hair out, and if the team wants to go ahead we have to address it.

"Hopefully it won't be a mirror image of last weekend. We were unlucky near the end of the first 45 minutes and to be hit just before and just after the break is a bit of a killer, but that is no excuse to crumble and go under, which is what has happened a few too many times this season.

"When you go away you have got to keep it tight and any time we have got something at Chelsea we have competed really well - and they have always been tight games.

"We have always picked up pretty good results there and that has been by keeping it solid and nicking one at the other end.

"It would be a very big disappointment to lose but we haven't been very lucky with the cup draws recently.

"But maybe this is better because it will bring the best out of everybody; we seem to struggle a bit against the lower league sides.

"Nobody is giving us much of a chance, like at Old Trafford and Sunderland last season, so hopefully it will work in our advantage.

"I would love them to get through; it would be fantastic, and after what happened last season the lads would love to go further again.

"Last year was a good shout, and two years before was another great chance when Arsenal beat us in the quarters, because it was Wolves next.

"You don't get too many chances to progress in what is such a great competition - so when you do you have to make the most of them."