Celtic Connections

FIRST-TEAM coach Peter Grant comes face to face with old Celtic team-mate Mick McCarthy when the Hammers travel to Sunderland this weekend, and he is hoping West Ham can get one over on his old Celtic Park room-mate by taking all three points at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

McCarthy, who is now in charge of the Black Cats, was Peter's team-mate at Celtic during the late 1980s, and although he is looking forward to the reunion Peter expects a tough game against their promotion rivals.

"Mick's teams are always full of grit and determination," said Peter, "and we'll have to match them in that department on Saturday. Sunderland also pass and move the ball very well and have a touch of class about them, which makes them tough to beat.

"It's a massive game for us and we're all looking forward to a great contest. There are some really talented individuals who we'll need to watch out for, and we'll certainly need to defend diligently up there. 

"Sunderland are one of the best sides I have seen in this League, but we're going into the game with a lot of confidence and hopefully we can come away with a vital three points."

The Hammers certainly go into the game with their confidence restored after last Saturday's 3-2 victory over Watford, a comeback win which Peter believes underlined the resolve of Alan Pardew's squad.

"We put in a big performance against Watford," said Peter, "and it was a really massive victory. After a reasonable start we found ourselves two goals behind, which could have destroyed our confidence.

"But the players showed incredible determination and character to come back and win the game, and we'll need plenty of that at Sunderland on Saturday.

"We had some big performances from the likes of Darren Powell and Sergei Rebrov against Watford, but as a team we know that we can play better and we'll be looking to step it up a couple of gears at the Stadium of Light."

As usual, an army of travelling Hammers fans look set to make the journey to the North East, and Peter admitted that their support will be vital if the Hammers are to overcome Sunderland.

"It looks set-up to be a smashing game," enthused Peter, "one that the fans should really enjoy. Since I arrived at the Club I've been amazed by the quality of support that we receive at away matches and we'll be looking forward to more of that again at Sunderland. Hopefully, we can put in a good performance and send the Hammers fans home with all three points."