First Cut Is The Deepest?

Neil Mellor could be stepping out at Derby on Saturday with his head shaved - if Jermain Defoe has his way.

J was happy not to be getting the headlines after Neil Mellor opened his account for the season with a brace against Crystal Palace to grab all the attention - but he had better watch out in training on Friday because Jermain might be pinning him down with an electric razor afterwards.

"The lads said to him you can't get a cut until you have scored a goal so he can get a hair cut now - and I would love to shave it for him," he says.

There is certainly a good relationship between the three main strikers at the club - despite persistent claims that David Connolly and Neil Mellor don't talk to each other, still less pass to each other.

The latter was visibly disproved once more on Wednesday in front of 31,861 fans, and J says:

"The people last night will have seen that we linked up well and there were times when I probably could have shot and I tried to square it to him to get a goal."

As for whether they communicate with each other off the field, Jermain reveals they do on a daily basis - and adds:

"I think it is stupid; I speak to Conners every day and I just laugh at it when I read in the papers that we don't talk - it is nonsense."

One newspaper, perhaps as bored with the subject as most Hammers fans, is now trying to claim David Connelly snubbed Neil when he scored on Wednesday!

It leaves Jermain flabbergasted, and he says:

"Neil got his first two goals on the night but all that nonsense in the paper - we don't read too much into it."

As for that wonder goal of his own, when he dummied Palace goalkeeper Cedric Berthelin following an underhit back pass from former Hammer - or is he still one? - Michael Hughes to go round the outside and slot home, he explains:

"Because he got the knock on his knee earlier in the game I think - and it's horrible to say - he bottled it.

"As soon as I got round their defenders weren't quite as far back so I thought I am definitely going to get it so I knocked it in - it happened so quickly and it was good to see it go in."

Jermain nearly scored a second towards the end when he robbed Hayden Mullins, and he says:

"I did well to win the ball back, took him on, and to be honest I slipped when I hit the shot; I probably should have just lifted it over him - I am just glad I got on the score sheet again."

Jermain admits that despite the 3-0 score line it was not a complete performance, and says:

"It was good to get back on winning terms, I thought the lads played well, and in the first half obviously with the goals and that was good.

"I thought we died a little bit towards the end of the second half - but we got the result and that is the main thing."

Trevor Brooking agrees:

"I still think there were spells when we gave the ball away too easily and allowed ourselves to get pushed back.

"These are areas we need to improve because a side that is having a better run and is more confident would have punished us.

"I don't think there has been any game where we have been in control for 90 minutes."

And of Jermain's goal, Trevor says:

"He is an instinctive goal scorer and he was alert enough to skip round him; it was good, and to be honest he had other chances."

And, of resurfacing claims that Manchester United are after him, he adds:

"I want Jermain in my team and no on else's - that says it all."

Sadly, that will not be the case on Saturday as Jermain begins a two match ban for verbals towards the linesman at Gillingham recently, for which he received a red card, and Jermain admits:

"I am going to sit there watching on the TV; it is disappointing that I am going to miss two games.

"You think 'was it worth it?' and when you are scoring goals you just look forward to the next game and it has killed me - but there is nothing I can do."