Mark's Learning Curve

IT'S been a whirlwind introduction to life as a Premiership player for 18-year-old Academy graduate Mark Noble.

After waiting his chance, the absence of Nigel Reo-Coker through injury has seen Mark start the last three games - against Spurs, Manchester United and Birmingham.

It's been a test of character as much as ability, and one which Mark is passing with flying colours according to Hammers boss Alan Pardew.

But he warns that the young starlet needs more time to develop at the top level.

"Mark's on a very steep learning curve," explained Alan. "He's in my office more than most talking about things, making sure he's in the right mindset for the next game. It's very difficult to try and mould yourself as a player in the Premier League when you're 18.

"Anton was always in my office last year, this year he's hardly been in there. It is crucial during that first period that they're in the team that I'm there to help them and be there for them. Mark will be questioning himself in games, and it's vital that I give him the answers that I feel are necessary, and of use to him.

"Your first exposure to this level of football you never forget - I can remember my first four or five games.

"A couple of those were harrowing experiences as you're finding your feet.
It's different to reserve and youth-team football, it's a big jump and he's doing a pretty good job of it at the moment. He's a strong character and a fast learner.

"It's difficult to assess a player until they've got 20 games under their belt.

"Some players unfortunately only get one or two chances, but those players that look like they've got special quality you want to give them a little bit more of a chance to see if they can break through."