Mullins In The Middle

THE return of Hayden Mullins to his favoured central midfield berth for the last two games has coincided with a drastic upturn in the Hammers fortunes.

Six points from two tricky away games, all claimed with the 26-year-old back in West Ham's engine room, bodes well for the former Crystal Palace trainee.

Since signing for the Club back in October 2003, Hayden has struggled to establish himself in the competitive midfield environment, but is hoping the team's current run of form can help him convince Alan Pardew that he can be West Ham United's man in the middle.

"I've said all along that midfield is where I like playing the most," he confirmed. "It's not that dislike playing in other positions. The bottom line is I want to play for this Club and if that has to be in another position besides midfield then I'm happy to do my very best for the team.

"I don't mind filling gaps, be it at right-back or in central defence, but I feel that my game is most suited to centre-midfield and that's where I can have more of an effect on the game.

"Of course, I'm delighted to have come back into the side and been involved in two very important wins. That's helped to boost my confidence as well as the teams.

"We saw Wigan and Burnley as two vital games for our promotion chances, games that we needed to get something out of. But to get six points is a great achievement and hopefully we can take that form into the Coventry game."

After the 2-1 win at Wigan, Hayden admitted that the pressure was on for the team to produce something similar at Turf Moor.

"Wigan was a great result," he said, "but we knew that we had to get something at Burnley as well. They're a lesser regarded team if you like, but we knew the game would be just as tough if not more, and no one can overstate the importance of those three points.

"In the first-half we had to battle really hard. They were making it difficult for us to play and we had to wait our chance.

"But in the second-half we started to get hold of the ball and play a bit more, and that's when our quality started to show. There weren't many chances in the game, but the important thing was that we made our chance count and at the end of the day the win was all that mattered to us."

Despite pressure from Carl Fletcher, Hayden is hoping to retain his place for the visit of Coventry to Upton Park this weekend, when the pressure will be back on the Hammers to produce in front of their home fans.

"We owe the Upton Park fans a result," he confessed, "and hopefully we can take confidence from the two away victories and put on a good performance for them against Coventry.

"The pressure will be on again and rightly so because it's another game we need to win. Hopefully, we can rise to the occasion like we did at Wigan and Burnley."