Focus First For Matty

MATTY Etherington has been pleased with the start Hammers have made to the new season and believes Alan Pardew's men will take a lot of positives into this weekend's clash with Bolton Wanderers at Upton Park.

The winger, who has previous Premiership experience with Spurs, has looked sharp in Hammers opening two games, where they have taken four points with a win over Blackburn followed by Saturday's draw at Newcastle.

But the 24-year-old is not surprised at the strong start Hammers have made.

"We went into the season with plenty of belief," he explained. "Pre-season was really strong and we went out for the first game believing that we could win the game.

"That's the approach we take into every match. We earned promotion to the Premiership last season and now we're up in the top-flight we're determined to make our mark.

"The Blackburn game was a great start for us and it gave the squad a big boost. I think we took that into the game at Newcastle, because we played really well and were more than a match for them.

"At the end we came off pleased with a point, but also a little disappointed because we felt that we could have won the game if we hadn't gone down to 10 men.

"But the way we responded to the red card showed the spirit we have in the squad at the moment. It was a really determined performance from us, we hung in there, defended well and might have even knicked a winner right at the end."

Matty knows from his previous top-flight experience with Spurs that the Premier League is a very tough division, especially for promoted teams. But he believes Hammers have what it takes to achieve their survival aim this season.

"We've proved in these first two games that we have the ability in this squad to compete in the top-flight," he said. "Of course, we know that there will be tough games ahead this season, and we're not getting carried away with ourselves.

"There's a long way to go this season and a lot could happen in that time. But the one thing that will help us in the sense of togetherness and the team ethic we've got. Our aim first and foremost is stay in the Premier League and we've got a good chance of doing that this season."

After four points from a possible six to start the season, Matty and the rest of the Hammers squad are looking forward to the visit of Bolton to Upton Park on Saturday. But the winger warns that Hammers must stay focused.

"Concentration is vitally important at this level and we've got to keep our focus," he explained. "But this is a squad that's determined to succeed in the Premier League, so I don't think that will be a problem.

"The game against Bolton will be another tough test, but we're relishing the challenge and hopefully we can give the supporters more to shout about on Saturday.

"The fans were tremendous against Blackburn and again at Newcastle, so we're looking forward to another great atmosphere at Upton Park."