A Plus...and A Minus

Trevor Brooking is delighted that David James kept his cool in Turkey at the weekend, but is concerned that Christian Dailly and Don Hutchison will have to miss the Stoke game because of Scotland being in the playoffs.

"I am pleased for David James; I thought he played well and really consolidated his spot on Saturday," says Trevor.

"He can look forward to going to Euro 2004 as England's number one keeper and it would be nice if he goes into the European championships as a Premiership keeper by next summer."

However, Scotland, who face Holland in a two legged playoff in mid-November, will be calling on two West Ham players for those games should they be fit.

"There is a slight problem with the Scotland result because the playoffs mean that Christian and Don Hutch might be involved," Trevor explains.

"There is an U21 playoff where David Noble could be involved but it would have to be all three selected for us to call off our Stoke game which takes place that weekend.

"So it a slight concern because you wouldn't want to be without those players, particularly Christian our captain, so we have to see how that one progresses.

"But other than that we are pleased for them getting into the playoffs, although it is going to be tough against the Dutch.

"Conners came back from the Republic having lost with no playoff spot so he will be a little bit down because I am sure like all players he would have loved to play in the big tournament next summer."

If David Noble is called up for the U21s, however, the game with Stoke will have to be postponed, and Trevor adds:

"If you get three involved it will be called off; David has been included in a couple of the U21s but not the last one.

"Hopefully he will be this time, all three are fit, and the game will be off."

David has not yet forced his way into regular first team contention as yet, but Trevor adds:

"I think that technically he is quite good, a good passer of the ball, quite comfortable in possession, but where we have to work on him - and we have said this to him - is the physical, athletic part of the game.

"In midfield, particularly if we play 4-4-2, and he prefers to be a centre midfielder, you have got to be able to get up and down and around the pitch; it is that area that we have got to work on him to lift him up to that level."

Indeed athleticism, in which Alan Pardew is a firm believer, will be essential in the coming months, thinks Trevor, who explains:

"Fitness is something you just need to keep working on; that is the only thing I have learnt very quickly in this division - none of the opposition lack for fitness and effort and giving everything in every game.

"We have to try to match that and hopefully the technique comes out on top - but unless we can cope with the other areas, and we are losing a few of those individual one on ones because of the physical part, that is when we sometimes struggle.

"So it is important to get the balance between the two in order that we have an effective unit.

"That is probably why West Brom have been near the top because they are quite an aggressive team and can cope with the physical element.

"That is where we have got to get the balance between playing our stuff and sometimes digging in, scrapping, and emerging with something even though it has not been particularly pretty to watch."