And The Search Goes On...

Glenn Roeder admits that the club's scouting mission to see the magnificently named José Pierre-fanfan on Wednesday night drew something of a blank - but Paolo Di Canio is confident that a revival can still occur.

Revealing the name - and quite a mouthful it is too - of the centre half West Ham were checking out in Europe midweek, Glenn admits:

"We covered the game last night but unfortunately he played at right back and we are not looking for that; we need a central defender that can dominate in the air both in the centre of the pitch and in the penalty box when the crosses are coming in.

"So it was a fruitless journey if you want."

The 27 year old Saint-Pol-sur-Mer born defender, wrongly named in some quarters as Pierre Fanfan, won a French championship medal with Lens in 1998, having started out in the 93/94 season with Dunkirk.

He spent four seasons with Lens before moving on to Monaco, where this season he has received a red card and scored one goal.

Closer to home Glenn admits he would have been interested in Matthew Upson, who has just moved from Arsenal to Birmingham City.

"Upson has been available for a while," says Glenn "but it was a case of transfer funds - and it will be interesting to see how he gets on at Birmingham."

But Glenn is on red alert to sign a centre half and adds:

"It is disappointing when I am recognising that our best player defensively on set plays against Charlton was Les Ferdinand, who got at least three headers away from corner kicks and wide set plays - and that is what our defenders need to be doing.

"Such was Les' commitment that he has got above one of their defenders in the attacking penalty box - and he has got five stitches in his chin for his troubles.

"But he didn't whinge, he didn't moan about it, he came over, got some Vaseline on the wound, carried on to half time, got the stitches in the wound, and surprised me in the manner that he was able to stay on for the whole 90 minutes.

"It was a real positive debut from Les Ferdinand and showed straight away from his first appearance how committed he is to the cause."

As time runs out on the transfer window, Glenn admits:

"I wouldn't say it is giving me sleepless nights - but it is a major concern, and had there been three or four centre backs signed in this transfer window I would be concerned, looking at my contacts, and our scouting system if we had not had a sniff of those players.

"But there hasn't been any sign apart from Upson who has been a money deal - they are not around.

"It doesn't mean we are going to give up and stop looking - we have a steady supply of video tapes sent to us and I am wading my way through those at the moment.

"Predicting anything in football is a dangerous business to enter into but all I can say is that we are putting all our energy into finding one."

Meanwhile, Paolo Di Canio, who played in a reserve team friendly just after returning on Thursday - and not, as reported in one national newspaper, Tuesday - says he is ready for the long haul.

Old Trafford on Sunday looks a match to soon, but Paolo insists:

"I want to help West Ham achieve something that has never been done before - that is to become the first Premiership side at the bottom at Christmas to avoid relegation in the same year.

"When we get that first victory at Upton Park under our belts, a big pressure will be taken away and everyone will then see the real West Ham once more.

"I honestly think we have a good chance of avoiding relegation, but for me, my main job at the moment is to concentrate on getting fully fit as quickly as possible.

"I hope Fredi and I will be back soon because it is important we are both fit for the team, and our goals will help win matches.

"We have the players and we have the desire, but we need to find the confidence; Glenn Roeder has brought players in and I hope our supporters feel not too down.

"When we do have a full squad with everyone okay, I am confident we will fight our way out of the relegation places."