Bywater's Keeping Confident

GOALKEEPER Stephen Bywater is confident that the Hammers can improve on their away form this season, starting with Sunday's derby clash at Millwall.

The 23-year-old insists that picking up more points away from home will be crucial to the Hammers promotion push, and is confident Alan Pardew's men can bounce back from last weekend's disappointment with a win at Millwall. 

"This is a really important game for us," admitted Steve, "but I'm sure we are capable of winning all three points on Sunday.

"Compared to our home form, which was fantastic up until last weekend, our away performances haven't been as good. But it's the same game home or away, we have enough quality in the squad to do well away from home and I'm confident we'll bounce back from a disappointing result against Brighton last weekend. 

"It'll be important for us to be strong at the back against Millwall and make sure we don't give too much away. If we can keep tight in defence then I'm sure we have enough firepower to cause them problems.

"We also have a couple of new lads in the squad, Mauricio Taricco and Darren Powell, who are both very experienced players and will bring a lot of steel to the side."

Last season's trip to Millwall was not a happy one for Stephen, after he conceded a penalty and was sent-off. But the former England Under-21 'keeper insists that memories of last season have not even entered his thinking during the build up for Sunday's match.

"As a professional footballer it's very important to keep the negative thoughts out of your head," he explained. "Last season's game is in the past. I'm just focusing on doing my best in the coming match and helping the lads pick up three very important points.

"If anything, last season's result will only make me more determined to do well. But my preparation is the same whatever the game, and like usual I'll be going all out to keep a clean-sheet."

The former Rochdale stopper is also keen to put on a match-winning performance for the Hammers supporters.

"I felt for the fans last season at Millwall," he said, "and it would be fantastic to put on a great performance for them this time round and send them home with a victory."