Rio Backs The Boys

Rio Ferdinand is backing West Ham for promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship this season.

Rio is always a welcome visitor to Upton Park and follows the progress of his brother carefully, and the younger Ferdinand says:

"He wants to see West Ham back in the Premiership and he wants to see me back in the Premiership as well.

"I want to see myself there - and West Ham United.

"If we keep playing well, then who knows? Pre-season has been good with the help of Alex Dyer and Tony Strudwick."

Anton is aiming for greater involvement in the first team this season and he says:

"I played odd games last year but this year I want to play much more than that; I want to be a first team regular and play week in, week out.

"The best thing for a manager is to have a selection problem and I want to be top of that list."

A sign of the progress Anton is making is the fact that he has been involved in pre-season at the heart of the defence and he explains:

"It has been good playing in my right position with the boys.

"Everyone knows that I am a centre back; if I have to play anywhere else I will fill in there but my main aim this year is to play centre back.

"It is between me, Mells, Christian, Tomas and even Hayden can play there.

"We have got to fight for our positions and hopefully the two the gaffer chooses will be the correct ones - and I just hope I am in it."

Anton is looking forward to learning from the example of Teddy Sheringham, and is delighted that Alan Pardew secured his signing this summer.

"He is a good player to play with, he talks to you and tells you where to put the ball," says Anton.

"If you don't put it there he doesn't batter you, he tries to guide you, which is a good thing - he is like another coach.

"You just have to look at what he done in his career and that says it all; he is a good signing, and it will be good for me to play with him.

"I remember watching him play in France '98 and now I am playing with him, which is a bit mad."

Anton enters the season brimming with confidence, and says:

"We have a good squad with international players and all, we have to do is keep performing and getting clean sheets - because we are always going to score."

He insists that the disappointment of Cardiff is in the past now.

"Everyone has put that behind them; obviously it hurts when you see the TV and you are not in the Premiership but we have got to forget that and concentrate on this season," he says.

"We need to concentrate on ourselves - and ourselves only."