Pards' Preview

Alan Pardew is backing Anton Ferdinand to return to fitness sooner rather than later - and expects a cracking game at Sheffield United this weekend.

The news that Anton Ferdinand has not broken his leg - though he will be out for a fortnight with bruising - is good following a hefty challenge while on England U21 duty against Poland this week.

"He is not as bad as we feared and we have high hopes for Anton; he has had some games now in the Championship and we will be looking to him to return as quickly as possible to challenge for his place in the team," says Alan.

"It is tougher for us because Premiership squads are that much bigger and stronger and can cope with - with losing Christian, Anton, and Michael Carrick, it is an issue.

"There is a compensation situation but that doesn't really help me too much in picking the team - we are disappointed, but that's life."

Andy Melville returned to West Ham unscathed after being on the substitutes' bench for Wales against Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

"Andy wasn't involved for Wales but we hope he is okay and are looking forward to seeing him back in our squad," says Alan.

Sergei Rebrov was not on duty with Ukraine this time around, and Alan sees that as a blessing in disguise.

"Sergei didn't go away with his national team which was good for us; we got a week's work into him and he looks a lot better for it," says Alan.

"I still think he is going to be a big, big player for us and though he hasn't shown that yet in a Championship fixture I think it will come sooner rather than later.

"He looks really bright in training, his mentality looks good, and I have no worries about him; he is going to be a good player for us and he has certainly shown it on the training ground.

"Perhaps he just needs one big game in the league programme and he will be up and running."

Looking at the weekend opposition, Alan adds:

"I have had some tussles up there but Neil Warnock's sides are aggressive and neither side will be trying tactically to tie the game up so it will be a nice open game.

"Usually it is very exciting against Sheffield United and I don't think this will be any different.

"Last season we felt we were unfortunate not to get a win but every time we have played up there it has been a very physical, open game; his mentality is similar to mine in trying to win the game.

"Neil Warnock has invested heavily in that team and they have always been there or thereabouts.

"The Wigan defeat was a wake-up call for us and the Coventry game was a close game, one we were dominating - to lose that was not good on our part and we are looking to bounce back from that."

Alan is backing Teddy Sheringham to continue his good start to the season, and adds:

"Teddy has been what we hoped, really; we are looking to get a stronger team around him."

Alan insists his sphere of influence goes beyond just the forwards and insists:

"I think it would be unfair to say he is just helping the strikers; he is helping everybody, because that is the personality he is.

"It didn't take him long to upset the England team with his opinions, I see, and he has been great for us."

As for Jermain Defoe, and his emergence on the international scene with a goal scoring performance in Poland, Alan concludes:

"He made it pretty clear when I wasn't here and this team was relegated that he wanted to leave.

"He put a transfer request in, his contract was running out, and we were in no position to keep him.

"But I like Jermain, I think he is a terrific lad; I was pleased for him last night and hope he goes on and has a fantastic career for England."