Dailly's Blackburn Best

SCOTTISH international Christian Dailly knows better than most that Blackburn Rovers will be at their competitive best for today's visit to Upton Park.

The 31-year-old played at Ewood Park between 1998 and 2001, before making a £1.75 million switch to Upton Park.

As one of Alan Pardew's squad with Premier League experience Dailly's presence is going to be a vital ingredient to Hammers top-flight fortunes this season. And he is looking for a good start against his old employers this afternoon.

"It's going to be a massive game for the Club," he confessed. "The atmosphere in the Stadium will be huge, but we've come through our pre-season programme in really good shape and we're up for the challenge.

"It's going to be a tough test against Blackburn, but it'll tell us a lot about where we are at the moment and how we compare to the Premier League. We're really looking forward to it and hopefully we can come away with a positive result our return to the Premier League."

Renowned as a physical team, Christian knows Hammers will have to match the ultra-competitive style of Mark Hughes' side, but refutes claims that they are a dirty side.

"When I played up at Blackburn they certainly liked to get stuck in," he admitted, "but I've never seen them as a dirty side. I think they are competitive and that's an area where we'll have to match them.

"Blackburn have got some strong players and they play good football at times as well. I think these things tend to get blown out of proportion a bit. I don't expect them to hold back though, and neither will we."

Christian believes that one thing working in the Hammers favour for the Premier League opener will be the fantastic spirit in the West Ham United camp, which has been bubbling ever since the Play-off Final victory back in May.

"The atmosphere has been brilliant," he enthused. "We have gone all the way through pre-season unbeaten and before that had that run of one defeat in 13 games. The spirit right through the last few months has been tremendous and hopefully that will really help us at the start of the season.

"But we can't rely on what's gone before. Now it's the result against Blackburn and the work we do in the next few weeks that's going to be vital. We want to get off to the best start possible and we need to be picking up points in the opening six games of the season.

"Today's game is going to be a great test for us, and it's really important that we don't slip up at home because that's where we've got a great chance of picking up points this season."

With over 400 League games to his name - 122 of those for the Hammers - Christian is one of the most experienced members of Alan Pardew's squad. But the former Dundee United trainee believes youth is making Upton Park sparkle right now.

"The young players really did come through well last season," he said, "especially when some of the senior players like myself were out injured. They matured a lot throughout last season, had to cope with a great deal of pressure, and their maturity showed towards the end of the season as we came through the Play-offs.

"Playing week in week out under those kind of pressures and in the tension of the Play-offs will stand many of the young lads in good steed for what is to come in the Premiership."