Pacemaker Matty

ONE thing winger Matty Etherington is certainly not short on is pace.

And that's exactly what the 24-year-old former Hammer of the Year has needed as he has adjusted to life back in the top-flight.

With one goal already to his name, Matty has hardly struggled to get to grips with English football's finest and has contributed to Hammers solid start to their Premier League season.

"We've taken a lot of heart from the way we've started the season," he admitted. "The Bolton game wasn't the result we were looking for, but the performance was still encouraging and we'll take positives from that into the next game.

"The main thing was that we were disappointed to lose at home after playing very well. Our home games are going to be important for us this season and we need to be picking up points at Upton Park. That's why we are going to work hard to prepare ourselves for the Aston Villa game and hopefully we can take something from that one.

"It's fantastic playing back in the Premiership and tremendous for the Club. The fans are obviously loving being back in the top-flight and you can see that with the atmosphere we've had at Upton Park for the first two games.

"Obviously quality wise it's a massive step-up, but the team have really responded to that and we've been competitive in each of the three games so far.

"This squad seems to thrive on the big occasions and they hardly come much bigger than playing in the Premiership week in, week out.

"The tempo is also much higher at this level, but again that's something that suits the way we play. Our game is about pace, energy and quality. We've got a lot of pace in the team and we prefer to play at a high tempo."

Matty is also up against some of the world's best defenders in the top-flight and admits the standard of his opponents is noticeably higher.

"Of course, at this level you are going to find that the defences are generally stronger," he said. "Overall, the standard is definitely higher in the Premier League, but we've shown in our opening three games that we have the ability and certainly the determination to do well at this level.

"We know that we are going to come up against some very strong teams this season, but it's something we are constantly preparing for. There is such a buzz around the squad and we'll go into every game believing that we can win it.

"Right now though we've got some time to put the work in on the training pitch and make sure we keep playing at the level we've shown over the first three games."