Vlad All Over!

Slovakian international Vladimir Labant says he is settling in well to his new way of life in England, and admits he can't wait to perform in front of a full house at Upton Park.

Despite not having played a competitive game since the start of the December - when his previous club Sparta Prague began their winter break - the 27-year-old impressed during the reserve team's clash against Nottingham Forest at Upton Park and may even be involved in Saturday's mouth-watering FA Cup fourth round clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking to Hammers & Tongues (with the much appreciated help of Ludek Miklosko's wife as an interpreter!) after experiencing his first taste of English football in front of a handful of fans at the Boleyn Ground, Vladimir revealed his delight at being handed the chance to prove himself in the Premiership.

"I like English football, it is more stronger and quicker than Czech football," he enthused. "Every player wants to prove they can play at the highest level and I am grateful to Glenn Roeder and West Ham for giving me this opportunity

"I am looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd at Upton Park because I think that the West Ham fans are like a 12th man to the team.

"I was here when they played Arsenal in December and the atmosphere was fantastic. I can't wait to play in front of the supporters and I hope I can do a good job for them."

There is every chance that Vladimir could be called upon for the cup clash at Stamford Bridge and he insists he is fully prepared for the challenge should it arise.

"It is up to the manager to decide if I am ready to play on Saturday but I feel good and I will be ready if he wants me. If I don't play against Chelsea, I would hope to be involved in the games next week when I will have trained more with the team.

"Every day I feel better and stronger and I think I will be able to adapt quickly to the style of play. Hopefully I can play a few games soon and then I will be fine."

Off the field, Vladimir is adjusting to his new surroundings and is confident that he will soon be able to communicate verbally with the team-mates who have helped him to settle in at Upton Park.

"The other players have welcomed me. They are very friendly and helpful and I look forward to playing with them.

"I learnt some English when I was living in the Czech Republic but I don't know enough yet to speak confidently. I understand some sentences and words but listening is easier than speaking!

"Hopefully in a few weeks I will know a bit more and be able to talk to my team-mates in English."