Alan On J

Alan Pardew hopes that Jermain Defoe will still be with West Ham in the summer - and that the club will be successful in their appeal against his recent sending off and the five match ban that would result from it.

"I am hoping we are not going to miss him and I said to him I hope he is on the plane for England in the summer - if he is I will be going to watch him," says Alan.

"I think he can do it at West Ham but I can't foresee what is going to happen; we are in the first division and you can never get away from the fact, like 15 or so teams in the Premiership, that you are vulnerable to the top four clubs but it is pretty clear that there is a business logic to the situation.

"First and foremost he has got 18 months left on his contract which leaves us vulnerable to go to a tribunal.

"The opportunities are this window and next summer and if he doesn't sign a new contract in the summer we will really have to do some business.

"The same situation allowed us to take Marlon Harewood out of Forest and I don't want to get in a situation where someone steals him off us at a tribunal - the ideal scenario is to get to the summer and hope we get promoted, then address it.

"We would give him a bigger contract if we possibly can and hope we have done enough to adhere him to us in the meantime.

"If a player wants to go it is difficult to stop him though there is no choice at the moment because no offers have been made.

"The only choice is mine; I really like him, I think he is a terrific lad and I am trying to to do the best for him and West Ham.

"Personally I don't think he should serve a five match ban but in tribunals nothing seems to get addressed; a number of clubs go with legitimate reasons but unless it is mistaken identity it doesn't seem to get a positive answer - and I am not trying to put pressure on, but that is a fact and managers are saying 'what is the point?'.

"I can understand why he was sent off because the ref was in line where he couldn't possibly see but if there is justice he will get off."

Alan was delighted with the response his players showed to the Ipswich defeat when they beat Forest and he adds:

"They were so disappointed as a squad and a team after Ipswich and we were determined to make the right moves - I thought we were in control for most of the game apart from the odd moment.

"I have been trying to get a system nailed down to get Connolly, Harewood, and Defoe into the team, we have tried a couple of things, and that worked - they worked really hard.

"We need to score goals in this division and defensively there was a punch - it was pleasing to keep a clean sheet and Tomas Repka played like an international player, head and shoulders above everyone on the pitch.

"I am asking questions of them but we are not getting too carried away because we are showing inconsistencies and that is a problem, not just game to game but in them, and I am not used to that.

"That was about the best 90 minutes we have put together as a team and when there are top class players at the club you should have consistency week in, week out, which is the point I was trying to make after Ipswich.

"We have picked up last seven games and I'd be foolish if I said our goal wasn't the top two; there is still time, we will fight to the end whatever happens to try and win it unless it is no longer mathematically possible."