Pards Pleased With Pre-season Progress

ALAN Pardew presided over another excellent pre-season performance for West Ham United at Selhurst Park, his Hammers side running out 1-0 winners thanks to a Matty Etherington goal.

There was plenty for the Hammers manager to be pleased about, and with the season just two weeks away, he is delighted with the progress his squad has made.

"We put in a really solid performance at Palace," said Pards. "That was always going to be a big test for us, because Palace have only just dropped out of the Premier League themselves, and a week away from the start of their season they were going to be sharp.

"It was a big test of our physical levels and definitely the most competitive game we've had so far in pre-season.

"I thought we matched them throughout the game and I was pleased with the overall level of our performance.

"We showed in the Palace game that we've made good progress during this pre-season. To be still two weeks away from the start of the season and showing the type of fitness levels that we are is very encouraging.

"There is also a terrific spirit in the squad, which has been flowing ever since the Play-off Final.

"The excitement and buzz around the training ground is fantastic at the moment. Everyone is looking forward to the start of the season and every player is fighting really hard to make sure that they are in the starting line-up for the first game against Blackburn."

In particular, Pards could take plenty of comfort from a defence that shackled England striker Andy Johnson, limiting the much-coveted hitman to just two half chances.

"I was delighted with the performance of the back four," explained Alan. "We switched things around from the Munich game, playing James Collins and Elliott Ward in the centre, and they both did excellently against a lively Palace attack.

"Paul Konchesky at left-back gave us the type of energetic performance that we are looking for and Danny Gabbidon was very impressive at right-back.

"Danny has played there a few times during pre-season and has looked very comfortable. His versatility gives us another option."

Over the weekend, Pards added to his squad with the arrival of full-back Clive Clarke from Stoke City for £275,000, who will compete with Paul Konchesky for the left-back spot as well as adding to the cover at centre-half and in midfield.

"We are delighted to have Clive as part of the squad," said Pards. "He's a player that impressed us last season with his pace, strength and ability on the ball.

"He's a versatile defender and a great addition to the squad."