Pards' Fan Power

ALAN Pardew is quick to praise the tremendous support of the Hammers fans over the last few games, but admits the team will need their help more than ever as they go in search of a fourth straight win against Millwall.

A crackling atmosphere is expected at Upton Park for the visit of the Lions, and Pards is looking for the Hammers faithful to continue their superb backing of the team.

"The fans have been magnificent over these last five games," he confessed. "And with three wins and two draws during that time it proves just how much of an affect they can have on the team.

"We're expecting big crowds for Millwall and again at Sunderland. The support of the fans lately has given the players a huge lift. It feels like they've made a conscious effort to forget about the external issues surrounding the Club at the moment and just back the team.

"That's been really important. We can't do this without the support of the fans. They're going to play a big part against Millwall and hopefully they stay with us right through until the end of the season."

Pards believes that with several senior Lions players returning to fitness this isn't the best time to be facing Dennis Wise's team, especially as the player-manger looks set to start himself.

"Millwall have got some key players coming back and this probably isn't the best time to be meeting them," he admitted.

"It's a huge game for their fans and you can be sure Dennis will have his players fired up for this one.

"He's an incredible competitor. You only have to look at his FA Cup record to know that Dennis is a player who rises to the big occasions. It looks like he'll be out there playing, which always makes it a bit tougher for the referee having the player-manager on the pitch.

"It's going to be a really tough game on Saturday and everyone will have a part to play.

"We can't hide from the fact that there have been difficulties at these games in the past, and we can only hope that football remains the focus of the day.

"Outside the stadium the police will do everything in their power to make sure there are no problems, while my responsibility is the behaviour of my players inside the ground, and I'll be ensuring they conduct themselves responsibly."

After three wins in a row still has them perched just outside the Play-off places, Pards knows that every point is vital over the last five games. And the Hammers boss admitted that there can be no mistakes in this must-win environment.

"The chase for the Play-offs always reignites teams," he admitted. "You can see that in the way the teams around us have all gone on good runs of late.

"As it gets closer they'll be some nerves that start to kick-in and it's a time of the season where we know that we just can't afford to make mistakes.

"We had to win the game against Coventry, especially with Reading winning earlier that day and under the circumstances it was a very good, patient performance.

"We'll need something similar against Millwall in what is a very important game."