Pards' Play-off Charge

ALAN Pardew is expecting a charged atmosphere at Upton Park this evening and insists the feeling inside the stadium tonight will be essential to his side's quest for three points against Sunderland.

"It's a massive night," he confessed. "The atmosphere is going to be charged and we're urging the crowd to create a really special atmosphere, like only Upton Park can create.

"The feeling inside the stadium is going to be essential this evening and I'm sure the Hammers fans will rise to the occasion and make it a night to remember. We know how important this game is to the whole of the Club and the players are determined to respond in the right way and get the three points we need.

"We're up against the best and most consistent team in the League. But we'll give nothing short of 100 per cent tonight and after the game we'll see where that leaves us. Hopefully, it will be with the win and three valuable points."

Pards has nothing but admiration for the job Mick McCarthy and his staff have done at the Stadium of Light this season. But there will be no respecting of reputations from either side this evening, as the Hammers boss confirmed his suspicion that the Black Cats will not suffer a promotion hangover at Upton Park.

"You don't secure promotion with two games to go by being unprofessional," he explained. "They'll really want to get the result that secures them the title and make sure they play well in front of the Sky cameras.

"Mick has done a terrific job crafting Sunderland into a strong side that plays good football. I'd like to place on record my congratulations for the work Mick and his staff have done there.

"I think the teams are similar in terms of the way they play, with lots of energy in midfield. The midde of the pitch is going to be a key area for both teams tonight, and from our point of view we've got to create things from there.

"In terms of players we're on an even keel with Sunderland in my opinion. I think the difference this season has been that the players who came down with Sunderland have been available throughout the season and formed the backbone of Mick's side - like Julio Arca, the two goalkeepers and Stephen Wright.

"For us, most of our Premiership players if you will have been injured or unavailable, which has been a major problem. It's meant drafting in young players much earlier than we would have liked,  but those youngsters have done fantastically well and they've got a great chance to prove how good they are this evening.

"It's going to be a huge night for them, but I'm confident they will respond in the right way."

Should Hammers win the pressure will pile on close rivals Reading, who play at home to Wolves tomorrow. But Pards warns that playing a day early will only be an advantage if West Ham claim all three points.

"I think playing a day earlier is an advantage," he stressed, "because it gives us the chance to get the upper hand on the teams around us.

"If we win it will really put the pressure on the teams around us, but it will work in the opposite way if we don't get the result we want, because it would give a real boost to the chasing teams.

"That's why it is so important we focus on our job this evening, create a fantastic atmosphere inside the stadium and really concentrate on winning what could be a crucial three points."