Carroll's Away Aim

WITH three away games, starting with Monday's clash against Birmingham City, ahead for Alan Pardew's Hammers, goalkeeper Roy Carroll believes this will be an important time for the team ahead of the gruelling Christmas period.

The 28-year-old goalkeeper was disappointed to see the side lose 2-1 against Manchester United after taking a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to a Marlon Harewood goal and several excellent saves by the former Old Trafford player, who showed that five matches out with a knee injury have not dulled his early season form.

But Carroll knows the team face an important period as they travel to Birmingham, followed by Blackburn Rovers and Everton.

"This is going to be an important couple of weeks," he said. "We've got three away games coming up, matches that will all be very tough in their own right.

"Christmas is always an important time and going into that period on the back of some good form is always an advantage.

"We've been doing really well lately and have achieved some very positive results. That has all come from the work the team have put in on the training ground and the determination and belief that we have shown.

"Last weekend's defeat to Manchester United was disappointing, especially because we played well. We win and lose as a team and everyone was determined to win that game.

"Unfortunately it didn't work out that way, but that is behind us now and we'll look forward to getting some positive results out of these next three games and continuing the progress that we have made.

"Coming off the pitch disappointed at losing to Manchester United if anything is a good sign, because it shows just how far the Club has come in such a short space of time since winning the Play-offs.

"We competed with a top side and gave them a very tough game. They had to play very well to beat us and it's a game that the team will learn a lot from, which we can take into the rest of the season and use to build on what we have already achieved.

"It is a long season and we know there is still a lot for us to do. But approaching Christmas we have got ourselves into a strong position and now it's important that we stay focused, keep our concentration and make sure we don't let our performances slip.

"Birmingham is going to be a hard game against a team who are looking to get something going. But we're playing well, we'll go there confident and hopefully we can take something from the night."