Ludo Backs David

Goalkeeping coach Ludek Miklosko has praised David James for fighting his way back from injury to secure a place in England's World Cup finals squad, and backed the Hammers' keeper to prove his quality in Japan and South Korea this summer.

Ludo, who arrived back at Upton Park in a coaching role just weeks before James signed in a £3.25million deal from Aston Villa last summer, played an important part in the 31-year-old's recovery from the knee ligament injury he sustained during an international friendly against Holland in August, but insists the player himself deserves all the credit

"It's brilliant for David and he fully deserves it for the way he has played since coming back from a serious injury last year," says Ludo.

"He worked so hard to get himself fit. I watched him every day and he was so focused on returning to the team and winning a place in England's World Cup squad.

"Despite not playing the whole season for West Ham, he has still had a fantastic campaign and has made a big impression on the team since returning.

"I know how important it is for him to have a chance of playing at the World Cup and I am so glad that he now has that chance."

Despite the fact that David is generally regarded to be third choice behind David Seaman and Nigel Martyn in Sven-Goran Eriksson's plans, Ludo insists that the Upton Park stopper certainly isn't going along just to make the numbers up.

"I think it will be difficult for all three goalkeepers but David will be prepared to play, because you never know what can happen in these tournaments," he says.

"I wouldn't say that David is number three choice, I would just say that all three will need to stay on their toes and be ready.

"I remember a Czech team going to the World Cup once and, in the end, it was the number three goalkeeper who played the most games, because the first two were injured.

"Anything can happen, but David is a very professional person and he will be completely ready if he is needed by Sven-Goran Eriksson."

This summer's World Cup will bring back fond memories for Ludo, who was part of the Czechoslovakia squad that reached the quarter-finals of the tournament back in 1990 - just months after he had joined the Hammers as an unknown £325,000 signing from Banik Ostrava.

The Czechs were defeated in the last eight by West Germany - whose victory set-up an unforgettable semi-final clash against England - and Ludo recalls clearly the part he played as second choice goalkeeper behind Jan Stejskal.

"I was second goalkeeper behind Jan Stejskal in 1990 and after the tournament he said that he would never have been able to play that well if it hadn't been for the help and encouragement of the other goalkeepers.

"That was very nice for me and I think it shows what being part of a World Cup squad is all about. Goalkeepers have to stick together and the ones on the bench have to help the number one as much as they can.

"Whoever is playing for England will know that he has the full support of the other two goalkeepers and that is very important."

Finally, Ludo admits that he has been impressed by the squad that Eriksson has built since taking over in charge of the national team, and believes England can enjoy success in the far east.

"I think England have a very good team, mixed with experienced and young players," he says.

"They have some tough group games but if they get through then I think they can go far in the tournament."