David Positive

David James does not agree with those critics that feel Wednesday night was not a particularly good one for West Ham's England players.

He feels too much attention is being paid to Joe Cole being dispossessed for Italy's equaliser - and not enough to the fact that his tenacity effectively created Robbie Fowler's opening goal.

David, who conceded the late penalty which was converted for the Italians' 2-1 victory, insists:

"It was all right, and I enjoyed it, though obviously the last minute had an influence - but overall it was a good experience.

"It was one of those things, but it was a learning experience which hopefully will be invaluable in the future.

"It was a situation where you throw yourself at someone's feet and either make a great save or concede a penalty; in this case it was the latter because he got a great touch to take the push the ball beyond me and, once I was committed, there was no way to pull back from it.

"As for Joe, I think overall he did well; he was likewise unfortunate, having possession taken off him, but other than that he did fine.

"There is a lot of stuff he did in that short period of time which will definitely be considered a positive, and that should be taken more into consideration than the other, perhaps.

"The situation was simple; it was an opportunity for people who are not already on the plane to show their worth for 45 minutes with, I think, just one more game to go, and Joe is still in there with a shout.

"Trevor did himself no harm at all either, and it was nice to see three West Ham players at once on the field, which I understand hasn't happened for a few years."

Meeting up with the England party so soon after the 5-3 win by Manchester United in which David Beckham scored a wonder goal for the second might have given the England skipper the opportunity to rib David about it, but the Hammers keeper says that he didn't.

But he admits:

"We did a bit of shooting and he scored a few more - he's not a bad player.

"He hit it well, in fairness; I have seen it on TV and I could have stood on the line and I would have saved it, but positionally if I was half a yard forward or back it wouldn't have made any difference.

"It was precise, to say the least, from someone who is third in Europe, or the world is it?"

Although never happy to concede, he does admit graciously:

"It was a good goal; football is about appreciation and sometimes you have to appreciate what people do against you.

"Yeboah scored one against me a few years back and, as much as I was frustrated, you have to take into consideration someone else's ability - what can you do?"

David reveals that he had to fight back from illness to make it to the England party, and explains:

"I wasn't good last week, I wasn't eating and I was lying down for four days, effectively, but I am much better now - bar a sore neck from a warm up incident."

Now comes the opportunity to banish memories of that 5-3 loss with two games in quick succession, and David adds:

"We have got a chance of pushing ourselves right into the top half with a couple of decent performances; we could be up there with the likes of Charlton."

But he does admit to being unhappy with the general performance against Manchester United, and adds:

"That was a big disappointment, not so much the game from a fan's perspective because I think even the West Ham fans would have to agree it was entertaining, but as far as our hard work as a defensive unit was concerned.

"As a team, not just the back four, I think we underperformed.

"Considering the opposition we played against, taking the first goal especially, you get punished for making mistakes, and it was disappointing for all concerned that we didn't show anything like the defensive form we have been showing this season, especially in the year 2002.

"The second goal was strange considering if they score a quick taken free kick they stand from previous experience - but that's football, we can't harp on about it now, and we are looking forward to Saturday."