The Man In The Middle

Hayden Mullins has relished the chance to start the season in midfield - but he knows that Steve Lomas will be breathing down his neck soon.

"I found it okay, to be fair; it is the position that I favour most," says Hayden, who looked after the 'engine room' with Nigel Reo-Coker at Leicester and against Reading.

Hayden, who played various positions last season since joining from Crystal Palace, knows there is no hiding place at the heart of the park, and adds:

"It is something I want to do in my career, to play midfield, and the responsibility comes along with that.

"But we have still got a senior player in Steve Lomas to come back in and I am sure he will help us out in the midfield as well.

"If I keep going and get a run of games in midfield I am sure I can only get better - it is the case of playing a few games there."

Further competition in midfield is provided by Nigel Reo-Coker, alongside whom Hayden has played twice out of two this season, and he says:

"Nigel has got bundles of energy and that allows me to sit a bit more while he bombs around.

"That is the way the gaffer wants his midfield to play, even if Michael is playing; he will have someone bombing ahead trying to get near to the two strikers, and that is a big part of Nigel's game."

Looking at the first day draw against the Foxes, Hayden adds:

"It was a bit frustrating against Leicester, especially when they lost a man, but it was such a hot day and they just put 10 men behind the ball.

"It made it hard for us, but I am sure in the long run if you are looking at things round about Christmas or come the end of the season, a point away to Leicester won't look too bad."

As for Tuesday night's victory, he adds:

"It was a very good game; Reading looked a very sharp and fit side and they came to us showing no fear at all.

"It was pleasing to be involved in the match; it was one of those you love playing in, and I am sure it was very entertaining for the crowd.

"This season we are going to try and make it as hard a place to come as possible; every win and every point that we get there is going to build up towards that."

Hayden reckons Alan Pardew has made some astute signings this summer, and says:

"I think the boys the gaffer has brought in have done well and settled in well; West Ham is a very good club for that, I found.

"When I first came here I settled in very quickly; everyone takes to you at West Ham and everyone is so friendly.

"Luke has come in and done well and Teddy and Serge have, too; it looks like we are forming a very good squad this season.

"I am very positive at the moment and I think if we can keep everyone injury-free we will be okay."