Steve's Staying Positive

GIVEN the positive attitude he shows out on the pitch, it's no surprise that Club Captain Steve Lomas prefers to look forward rather than back.

The tough-tackling midfielder has led his team to back-to-back victories against Watford and Sunderland, but instead of contenting himself with a well-earned six points, Steve is urging his team to make it a hat-trick of wins against Leeds tomorrow night and signal West Ham's promotion intent to the rest of the Championship.

"We're really on the up after the last two wins," said Steve, "but there's no way that we're going to sit back now. It's vital that we get another win against Leeds to really send a message to the Championship that we are right in the promotion race this season.

"Night games at Upton Park always have a special edge to them and I know lots of fans will have been looking forward to the visit of Leeds. It should be a tremendous atmosphere and a great game in front of the Sky TV cameras.

"Leeds will be a tough side to beat, despite a few indifferent results recently. They are still a very big club in the Championship and they'll be looking to bounce back with a good performance against us."

There's nothing like putting one over on a promotion rival, and Steve admits that the Hammers confidence has been buoyed by the 2-0 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

"It was great to get back to winning ways away from home," admitted the 30-year-old midfielder. "We've had some poor results on the road of late and although we were unlucky in some of those games it was definitely having a negative effect on the team.

"Winning away, especially at the Stadium of Light where Sunderland hadn't lost all season, was a magnificent result and gave the whole squad a huge list. You don't get the opportunity to boost the squad's confidence like that every week, which is why we need to keep the momentum going against Leeds."

The inaugural Coca-Cola Championship season has been consistent for just one thing - inconsistency. So far the season has been packed full of upsets as the top clubs and form teams in the division have found it tough to make their mark. But the Northern Ireland international midfielder insists that the wide open League may just play into the Hammers hands.

"The Championship really is wide open," said Steve. "Wigan began the season very well but wobbled a bit during November.

Then they came back with a 5-0 win over Preston last week, which just shows how unpredictable this league can be.
"There's probably about eight teams that fancy their chances, but some good form over the second half of the season and really anyone is in with a shout.

"From our point of view, we need to put together a good run over Christmas. It's the time of year that tends to separate the genuine contenders from those who won't last the pace. Christmas will be a good gauge of who can challenge for promotion and we'll be looking to take a few strides forward into the New Year."