Paul: Michael's Vital

Paul Goddard says that Michael Carrick staying fit is going to be a key element if West Ham are to push for promotion.

He played the full game against Bradord on Tuesday and Paul could see the difference he made to the side.

"I thought it was very important that Michael Carrick was back in the frame; some of his passing, as we would expect, was of the highest order," he says.

"For his first full game in many months I thought he was excellent; he is a quality player though he obviously faded out of the game at times that can only improve with fitness.

"It is crucial that he stays fit but unfortunately we needed Steve Lomas and Rufus Brevett; those two are out long term so we are having to readjust.

"But it is certainly vital that Michael has a very good season.

"He is still in very much a remedial stage where he is doing a lot of extra strength work beyond normal training to get himself as strong as he possibly can in the area that has been affected.

"It is an ongoing rehab at the moment."

As for fellow midfielder Rob Lee being injured, he adds:

"Rob Lee has certainly been the best player we have had for the four or five games and it is a blow that he has picked up the injury.

"I wouldn't like to put an exact time scale on him coming back but he had a smile on his face today which is always a good sign for me.

"He is walking much freer so that is a step made in the right direction."

Speaking ahead of the Ipswich game, he says:

"It will be a very tough game and a real test of our resolve; I think they will be there in the playoffs, if not very close to the automatics even though they haven't had a very good start.

"The atmosphere will be electric, especially as they had a poor performance in midweek; Joe Royle will have them wound up to performing.

"They know they need a good home performance so we must be at our very best - they are very dangerous with three strikers who have different strengths.

"Canouga is tremendous into feet and can roll people, one of my old youth players Darren Bent is incredibly pacy striker with a fantastic leap who creates many opportunities for himself.

"Big Marcus Bent can be, on his day, as good as any Premiership striker.

"They have also got a good young striker called who is Dean Bowditch is going to be an extremely good player as well, so they have plenty of firepower.

"Darren will be being watched by every Premiership club I am sure because he is a young Englishman who broke into the U21s recently, he scores goals, and he is quick."

As for the win over Bradford in difficult circumstances following the departure of Glenn Roeder, he concludes:

"Playing three up front certainly caused problems for Bradford and obviously we had to make adjustments around that as well.

"It was a good first half but we got the response we were looking for from the poor performance at Rotherham.

"There was a slight change in formation and the players really got stuck into what we trying; the only thing that was missing was taking advantage of some of the chances that would have made it a really good night."