Nigel: Aim High

Nigel Reo-Coker is urging West Ham to 'do a Wolves' and make a late surge for promotion.

The parallels, though not identical, are there: Wolves finished fifth last season after starting the year in tenth place and made it through the play-offs to the Premiership.

What Nigel hopes for is a string of good results that might take the Hammers into one of the automatic top spots.

Wolves went up five places in just two months, settling in fifth place with just two defeats after the New Year, and Nigel believes that demonstrates what can be done.

"There is still a long way to go, still seven games, and we need top pick up maximum points," he insists.

"Anything can happen, and Wolves managed to get into the Premiership from nowhere - so why can't we?

"We are not ruling it out until it is mathematically impossible."

The points needed for second place or making the play-offs from the first division have proven volatile in recent years, but most observers regard last season - when Leicester finished second with 92 points - as exceptionally high.

The Hammers can make 84 points by finishing with maximum points from their remaining games, while West Brom and Norwich, both with a game in hand, are 11 points from that tally.

The 74 points Nottingham Forest secured, six points behind Sheffield United in third place, got them the last play-off spot.

West Ham kept their automatic hopes just alive with a 2-1 win over Gillingham on Saturday, and of that, Nigel, who played 79 minutes for England U21s midweek in the 2-2 draw against Sweden, says:

"We deserved it but we had to work hard to win back the fans after the previous week's defeat.

"It was very hard - but every game in this division is very hard.

"You show every team you play respect, but at the same time not too much respect.

"We had to get back to pressing teams and there was a lot of character shown."

He acknowledges that it was not only the players that suffered following the Millwall defeat, and adds:

"It is not just about the lads that got the stick, there are people that work for the club getting stick, family and friends as well - and you have to feel for those people.

"Last week was a very long week and there is still a long way to go.

"West Ham just didn't turn up at Millwall, if I am honest.

"It is not the right game to do that - it means a lot to the West Ham fans.

"We were disappointed with ourselves and what happened.

"We just have to keep our heads, keep going as a team, and keep progressing."

Staying calm is the key, reckons Nigel, who adds:

"We had to dig deep on Saturday but we always believed in ourselves and knew we would get another goal.

"Getting goals is not a problem at West Ham and we knew it would be a matter of time and patience.

"Sometimes the fans don't like it when you are patient, but you have to be - and play like a mature team."

Nigel is not bothered about the hype surrounding Alan Pardew's return to the Madejski stadium, and says simply:

"It should be another good game, and hopefully another three points."