Paolo's Piranha Peril

Paolo Di Canio's piranhas may well be peering out of their bowl to Sky TV on Sunday afternoon - hoping their owner has a good one.

When this reporter asked after their health, he replied:

"I am going to kill them!"

A joke it may have been, but one fears for their welfare if Paolo - who returned to action on Wednesday after a layoff going back to last season, and an injury sustained against Charlton in April - doesn't inspire West Ham to victory on Sunday.

But they will have to take their chances, and, as Paolo says:

"Life is always a competition; every day when you get up it is competition - but I don't feel it.

"I feel that I am Paolo Di Canio, giving my best, and playing as I did in the first half on Wednesday even after five months, I can make a difference.

"Why do I have to feel competition? If you want to know what that is, it is daily, not fighting exactly, but a battle for something."

Naturally, Paolo's return to action, after successful rehabilitation in Bologna, has given options up front, and his inclusion against West Brom meant that Jermain Defoe, yet to score this season, was taking out of the firing line and had to wait his turn from the bench.

Jermain admits:

"Last year was obviously my first in the Premiership; this year the defenders know me, so it might be more difficult, but I am keeping my head down and working as hard as I can at Chadwell Heath."

While Glenn Roeder has said that Jermain competes on level terms this season, he has also said that Paolo, Fredi, AND Jermain could conceivably play together.

Whatever the permutation on Sunday, Paolo adds:

"You want to make competition from young players to the players that have played for 16 years, and it is not my problem.

"I heard some stupid things from the newspapers; they write without knowing what football means, they just write for the sake of it because they don't have other things to do.

"Everyone puts the point about Jermain and me; Jermain is a talented player for West Ham but he is one of many players at the club."

Paolo made a point of giving him words of encouragement when Jermain replaced him in the second half against West Brom, and he adds:

"I encourage every single player in the field; we were 1-0 down and I wanted to help the other players.

"I always think positively; I was not happy after the game but we have to remain together to get a result on Sunday.

"Every game is a big one, but there are some situations where the game becomes more important - and this is one because we are in a bad situation and it is a London derby.

"I am still giving 100% as a professional and I am sure that I will give my football for the rest of the season. "And, don't forget, we have quality in the side."

Something about which the piranhas will be extremely grateful.