Les To Stay?

Tony Gale is sure that Les Ferdinand will stay at West Ham next season - despite the interest of other clubs in signing him on a free transfer.

Les revealed here that the heartbreak of relegation with the Hammers had forced him to scrap the possibility of retiring because that was not the way he wanted to end his illustrious career.

The weekend saw his former club QPR, whose fans originally christened him 'Sir' Les, fail to gain the right to play West Ham next season after losing in the playoff finals to Cardiff City - while West Ham's other opponents next season in the first division were confirmed as Sheffield United, who lost to a Paul Ince inspired Wolves.

Tony, who also believes Jermain Defoe will be persuaded to stay at Upton Park - and J has repeatedly said how much he has learned from Les in his short time alongside him up front - says:

"It is crucial that we keep Les, I think, and he will be very important in that first division - as he was in the survival bid.

"In and around the club he has been a breath of fresh air.

"Premiership clubs are sniffing around but I hope that he has liked West Ham enough in that last little bit of the season to stay - and I have got a feeling he will."