Yossi's Strong Run

IN the heat of an intensely physical battle against Blackburn Rovers, the slightly built yet incredibly skillful Israeli international Yossi Benayoun enjoyed a very successful Hammers debut.

The 24-year-old showed some excellent touches on the right side of midfield, and completed a memorable start to his Upton Park career by setting up goals for Teddy Sheringham and Matty Etherington.

Now the £2.5 million signing from Racing Santander is hoping Alan Pardew's squad can start the Premier League season with a strong run of results.

"The feeling in the squad is very good after winning our first game at home 3-1," explained Yossi. "I was pleased with my first game, but of course there are things I think I can improve on in my personal performance.

"But after winning against Blackburn I can only be happy, and hopefully we can keep the run going against Newcastle United this weekend and go on to enjoy a good season.

"Things are going well for the Club and I am very happy to be here. The atmosphere at the home game last weekend was excellent and it helped the team a lot against Blackburn.

"As a promoted team winning our home games will be important, but the atmosphere in the Stadium makes it difficult for the opposition and that will help us this season."

Despite his slight build Yossi coped with the physical challenge of Blackburn very well and is now confident that he can handle the demands of the Premier League.

"Before the game I knew that Blackburn were a very tough and competitive team," he said. "It was difficult for me to settle into the game, particularly in the first 25 minutes. The pace was very fast and Blackburn were getting very tight.

"But in the second-half we found the space better, moved the ball around quicker and that meant I could get on the ball more and have more of an effect on the game. We did a lot of good things in the secoond-half against Blackburn and we will be looking for a similar performance at Newcastle.

"I know all of the Premier League will be very physical and demanding and that is something I have to work on. But I feel that I can handle the pace of English football and once I have a few more games to get used to it then I will be able to show the fans what I can do."

Yossi is looking forward to the trip to St. James' Park this weekend, where he hopes to help Alan Pardew's men build on their winning start to the season.

"The result against Blackburn is a very good start for us," he said. "I know about Newcastle United and I have been told that it is a tough place to play. But we are very confident at the moment and if we play like we did in the second-half against Blackburn there is no reason why we can't get a result.

"The manager has made it clear that a good start to the season is important and after the Blackburn game we will be doing all we can to take something from Newcastle."