Window? What Window?

Michael Carrick insists the hype surrounding the opening of the transfer window in January does not affect him in the slightest.

Alan Pardew has already made it clear he will resist attempt to pick off his best players and the media speculation is moving up a gear, intensified by the fact that transfer stories involving Premiership clubs are only really relevant in the build up to the two windows of opportunity for them to bring players in.

None of which concerns Michael, who says:

"It doesn't make too much difference, to be honest; I am just thinking about the cup game next week.

"If it happens it happens, but it is out of the players' hands and what we have had to deal with in the past we will just deal with again.

"I don't know what the gaffer's plans are but I am sure if he is going to bring players in it will strengthen the squad and be good for the club."

Michael admits 2003 has been a difficult year and says:

"It has been up and down but bit happier after the win at Forest, anyway."

He has put international ambitions on a back burner, feeling the need to concentrate on getting West Ham back into the Premiership limelight where they can be rekindled.

On the chances of heading to Portugal with England if he can have a good second half to the season, he says:

"I don't think they take too much notice of the first division so I wouldn't have thought it would happen."

It is, of course, a personal view, and he is perhaps hoping to be proven wrong when he mentions Jermain Defoe's chances of being called up by England to feature alongside David James.

"Jamo is already established in the squad so it doesn't make too much difference and I think it would be difficult for J to get in the squad from the first division," he says.

Michael was delighted for Marlon Harewood to have scored against his old club on Sunday to set West Ham on the way to victory - especially in the face of provocation from the home fans at the City ground - and he adds:

"Fair play to him; he was always going to get a bit of stick when he went back but he stuck one in the back of the net so they soon shut up.

"He gives you a different option; he has pace and power and he scores goals as well which makes a big difference."

Michael points to the character shown by the side to recover from the defeat at home to Ipswich and he explains:

"Obviously it was a setback the other day but you are always going to have your blips in the season.

"We bounced back and we bounced back well - so we just have to take it into the cup game now."

Michael has certainly not given up hope of winning the title this year and he adds:

"There are still a lot of games and points to play for and I can't see why we won't beat a lot of teams in this division if we play like we did against Forest.

"I still think we can go up as winners, but time will tell.

"We knew we didn't do too well against Ipswich and we threw the game away to be honest, but we bounced back and it was nice for Forest to be on the telly as well so a lot more people could see how we played; I thought we did really well.

"We started brightly and you wouldn't think we had a game two days previously the way we played in the first half.

"Then they tightened up a bit in the second half and we were happy to see out the game and get three points.

"We got the early goal and dominated the first half and we were just delighted when we got the second."