HAMMERS skipper Steve Lomas has called for his team-mates to replicate the character shown in the 3-2 win over Watford, in this weekendÂ¹s clash with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The Northern Ireland international praised the comeback against Watford, but warned that Alan PardewÂ¹s men will need to show similar fighting spirit in the North East as they look to get a result against their promotion rivals.
"It was a great performance to come back and win 3-2 against Watford," said Steve, "but we mustn't get carried away. This weekend's match at Sunderland will be a really tough game and weÂ¹ll need to show similar character if we want to get a win at the Stadium of Light.
"We showed against Watford that we have a lot of fighting spirit in the squad and that weÂ¹re not afraid to really battle hard when things are going against us.
"Now itÂ¹s vitally important that we start putting a run of good performances together to really push us up the table. One-offs are no use to a team that wants to be pushing for promotion. We need to get some consistency, and hopefully we can start with a strong display at Sunderland."
After back-to-back defeats and then slipping two goals behind against Watford, Steve praised the positive response of Alan PardewÂ¹s team. But, as a veteran of eight years at Upton Park, the 30-year-old knows that the Hammers fans want to see more from their team.
"The West Ham fans are fantastic," he said, "and although we made a great response against Watford, it is not enough to put in just the occasional good performance.
"The fans here know what they want to see from their team, and they rightly deserve to be watching strong performances week-in, week-out. That's why we need another really good showing at Sunderland, to prove to the fans that we are back on track and capable of sustaining a promotion challenge."
The depth of Alan PardewÂ¹s squad has been severely tested over the last few weeks, with injuries to senior players like Christian Dailly, Malky Mackay and Teddy Sheringham. As the captain and senior professional, Steve realises that extra responsibility does fall on him, a responsibility that he relishes.
"I know that as one of the more experienced players I have a duty of responsibility towards the younger lads," he said. "To be honest, I've always felt compelled to lead out on the pitch, whether IÂ¹m the captain or not.
"It hasnÂ¹t helped us recently missing so many first-team players with injuries and suspensions.
"The defence has been hit hardest of all with Christian and Malky missing, and it's been really difficult to keep a settled back four in recent weeks. That makes establishing consistency in your performances all the more difficult.
"But we certainly wonÂ¹t be using that as an
excuse. We showed tremendous character and spirit in our last game
and now weÂ¹re looking to show more of
the same on Saturday, and hopefully win another vital three points."