Tony On Joe

Tony Gale says he feels sorry for Hammers old boy Joe Cole not playing more regularly at Chelsea.

Although he has been linked by certain media to a loan move back to West Ham, Tony says:

"You wouldn't turn him down, but I can't really see it happening - although it would make sense for him to get first team games because he hasn't been getting much of a run-out lately at Chelsea and he seems to be the odd man out.

"As with the problems of his early days at West Ham they can't seem to find a position for him.

"At West Ham he played well in a midfield four, a flat four, a diamond, in the hole, in a 3-5-2 system and also in a 4-3-3.

"So I can't see the problems Chelsea are having with him, I just think he needs an extended run in the team.

"If he wants first team football, then great, come back, but I think the wages might be a bit of a stumbling block as well."

Tony is impressed by how Joe handled himself in last season's relegation battle and adds:

"I think he played his best football towards the end of last season, and that is the test of a player when you are doing it under pressure.

"Certainly the pressure of relegation is greater than going for titles and cups and to show such form, as Joe did, says what a good player he is.

"It is a shame he hasn't really been allowed to progress under Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea."

As for the recent victory over the Dons, Tony adds:

"The win over Wimbledon was expected and took us to third - I must admit I was really pleased for us to win 5-0 but I was a bit sad to see Wimbledon playing with a bunch of kids.

"But they are the type of games where you need to score goals and the lads did it, with five of them.

"Hopefully the confidence in goal will go up a little bit because that has been suffering of late; a little bit of punch in the last third with the final ball or shot was the only thing that has been missing."

Speaking of Matthew Etherington's performance, he adds:

"I don't think he will get a hat trick every weekend but he took every one of his goals very well; he has been in good form and I think he was missed against Walsall for the balance he gives on the left hand side.

"He has come on leaps and bounds and is probably one of the most improved players of the season."

As for moving on still higher, Tony adds:

"I still think we have got an outside chance of catching the top two."

Speaking ahead of the trip to Sunderland, he adds:

"I think we have a great chance because I don't think they are the great side everyone is portraying them to be just because they are in the FA cup semi-final."