Christian Soldiers On

Christian Dailly returns to the starting lineup this weekend after missing the Christmas programme with illness to declare: It's great to be back.

It is a timely return for Christian as Tomas Repka, who he came on for at Wigan on Saturday, is beginning a two match suspension, and he says:

"I don't miss that many games and hopefully that will be me for the rest of the season."

Christian is full of praise for the medical staff who treated him at West Ham for preventing his pleurisy developing into pneumonia - which would have ruled him out for a lengthy period of the season.

He admits it was "scary" anyway to have had the illness which affects your lungs - and therefore, obviously, breathing - and he reflects:

"It wasn't that good and anyone who has had pleurisy will know it is not the nicest thing to get.

"But the one good thing in my situation is that being pretty fit means that it goes away quite quickly, whereas with older folk it can linger for a few months.

"With me it hit quite hard but then I recovered quite quickly from it - and I am just looking forward to getting playing again.

"According to the doc it is not that unusual; I am the sort that trains really hard and don't miss that many games so I think at times you are training and playing when your immune system is down, and you are susceptible to something.

"But I am fully recovered; I eased into it last week and have had a full week of training now which I have managed to step up quite a bit so I feel much better."

Christian came on as a second half substitute for Tomas Repka at the JJB stadium on Saturday and says:

"Ideally I wasn't going to go on the bench but we haven't got huge numbers so the manager asked if I would go on the bench, obviously realising this week that Tomas would be suspended anyway.

"So it gave me the opportunity to get back into it, though I played a bit longer than I had probably hoped because I came on for Tom who I think was going to get sent off.

"It was a sensible decision to get me on in the end; there was obviously a bit of history there with what went on when a couple of Wigan players both got sent off for incidents against Tom at our place - though they were definite sendings off.

"These kind of things can happen and at the end of the day Tom might have taken the bait so it was the right thing to do.

"Tom has been doing really well and he is especially good if he can keep his head - if he does there are not many better defenders anywhere.

"We will be looking forward to getting him back and there is no doubting his commitment at all; he doesn't miss that many games, he will turn up and put himself out there through thick and thin - and that is just the type of player we need."

Christian is hoping to make it three wins on the trot for Alan Pardew - the back to back wins just completed were the first under him - and he adds:

"Ideally we need a couple of home wins; we have done pretty well on the road all season so if we can just get a few home wins together on top of that it would put us in a great position.

"Obviously it is a tough game for us against Preston on Saturday but it is an opportunity to try and do that.

"We did pretty well that first day and Preston have been kicking on, getting stronger as the season has gone on.

"We feel we still have to kick on ourselves and think we definitely have a string of results in us which we have not put together this season.

"We have looked like we were going to do it at times but we have ended up losing the odd game, which is not ideal for us - but we really feel we can go on a run now after Christmas."

Is it a case of adapting to the first division still?

"It is not necessarily like that," he insists.

"In a lot of games we have done pretty well and we are still sitting in a decent position in the table.

"We are on our third manager of the campaign and we lost 18 players last season so a lot has gone on in a short space of time at West Ham.

"So I think it is more that that has been difficult to adjust to than anything else, but the more we go on the more settled everyone will get, and the results will improve as well."

Christian is confident there will be additions rather than subtractions to the playing squad and adds:

"I don't think anyone will leave and if anything we will add to the squad - and that can only hopefully strengthen our cause for going back up again."

Christian says that the squad can absorb the temporary loss of Jermain Defoe's services for four more games and adds:

"It is one of these things; by the time this suspension is up Jermain will have missed a hell of a lot of games for us but it has happened and the team has to get on with it - we won away at Wigan last week so we just have to keep winning.

"We have got very good strikers here and it gives David Connolly the chance to play that little bit further up the park and he had that great finish against Wigan.

"He has been working so hard recently and not always getting the rewards he deserves; he has been dropping off and helping out in midfield at times.

"But he got his goal and he will be looking to get a few more.

"He does it for the team but your whole team has got to be like that - you have to have people in your team, especially in this division, that don't just want to look good but want to do the other bit as well - you don't get anywhere without people like that."

Christian knows that slipping any further from the summit will make it a tall order to win the title and concludes:

"But we are not thinking about Norwich at the top, we are just taking it one game at a time and are just thinking about ourselves."