Teddy Not Ready To Call Time

TEDDY Sheringham is entering his 16th season as a professional footballer, but could scarcely have been more excited about a new campaign.

The 39-year-old former England star has won Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup honours during his distinguished career, but admits that he can't wait to get back into Premier League action.

"It's fantastic for the Club to be back in the top-flight," beamed Teddy, who scored 20 Championship goals last season to fire Alan Pardew's team to the Play-offs.

"For me, it's a tremendous opportunity to be back playing in the Premier League again and I'll be trying to help the team in any way I can.

"We've got a good young squad here and we're all optimistic about the new season and the challenge ahead.

"It was a great end to last season and we've taken a huge amount of confidence from that. The squad is on a high and after a strong pre-season we've got every reason to be optimistic."

Despite being in the twilight of his career, the former Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Spurs, Manchester United and Portsmouth player still managed 36 senior appearances last season.

And after recovering from the hamstring problem that ruled him out towards the end of last term, Teddy has looked back to his best during Hammers pre-season programme.

But ask the veteran of 51 England caps what role he will figure in next, and he has a swift response.

"That's for the manager to decide," he replies. "I feel in great shape and I'm ready to play against Blackburn on Saturday."

A clear message that Teddy is fully focused on rolling back the years yet again this season and showing Hammers fans the class and imagination that has made him one of the greatest players of his generation.

Pards certainly agrees that Teddy's presence will be vital to his squad.

"Last season we tried to play Teddy as much as we probably could," explained the Hammers boss, "and I think his return on that of 20 goals proved what an influence he had on the squad.

"Of course, we missed him for the final games of the season and we'll learn from what we did last season to make sure Teddy is looked after and we get the best out of him.

"It will be a different challenge this season and I'm sure the number of games will help, plus there will also be more time between games to rest.

"Teddy is certainly important to us and we're hoping he can have another good season."

Much has been made of Sheringham's desire to prolong his playing career rather than make the expected transition into management.

But while he is in such glorious form Teddy is having no ideas to hang up his boots just yet, and has learnt one very good lesson from Pards on the tolls of top-level management.

"Why haven't I gone into management?" ponders Teddy, looking across at his manager. "Because I don't want grey hair!

"Seriously, I am enjoying myself playing football at the moment and why I am still doing that I see no reason why I should stop.

"Management is a stressful job and you have to take a lot on. I don't want that at this moment in time.

"Maybe I will look down that route in the future, but right now I have a very exciting time at West Ham United to concentrate on."