Hammers Have What It Takes

DESPITE dropping out of the Play-off places after the defeat at Wolves, striker Marlon Harewood is adamant the Hammers can still claim one of the automatic promotion spots.

"We've left ourselves a lot of work to do," admitted the 25-year-old forward, "but we're still aiming for a top two finish and everybody in the squad still believes that we can do it.

"It's going to be difficult, but we just need to keep focused, keep working hard and believe in our ability. There is tremendous talent in the squad, more than enough to carry us all the way to the Premiership.

"Unfortunately we've suffered a bit with injuries and struggled to put down a consistent run of form.

"We need to get a few of our senior players back, that's for sure. No disrespect to some of the younger lads, who have come in and done terrifically well, but for the run-in it will help to have our experienced players available.

"Everyone is still working hard to make things happen. It didn't go our way against Wolves, but we've shown the ability to bounce back already this season, and we'll need to do it again on Sunday against Derby."

The need for a good display in front of the Sky TV cameras on Sunday is not lost on the former Nottingham Forest striker, who appreciates that the Hammers need to start collecting points quickly if they are to catch the Championship leaders.

"The teams at the top are in good form at the moment," he confessed. "But we've beaten the likes of Ipswich and Sunderland away this season, proving that we've got the quality to beat the best teams in the division.

"We just need to show that quality more consistently and it will be a big game for us against Derby.

"They're a side in form at the moment and they'll come to Upton Park looking to make it difficult for us. But if we play like we did in our last home game against Norwich then we should have enough to beat them and hopefully kick start a good run for us."

Last time out at Upton Park, the Hammers certainly proved they have what it takes to exit the Championship via the front door - disposing of Premiership Norwich City 1-0 in the FA Cup. Marlon bagged West Ham's winner that day, and hopes the team will draw on the positives of that performance when they take on Derby.

"The win over Norwich was a massive boost for the lads," he confessed. "We needed to give a good showing against Norwich, because it laid to rest memories of our defeat to Sheffield United.

"But the Sheffield United match was our last home League game, so there will still be plenty to prove on Sunday.

"The Wolves result was very disappointing, but I didn't think we deserved to lose 4-2. We dominated for long periods of the game, but came unstuck because we gave away sloppy goals.

"That's something we need to put right. As professional footballers we are expected to perform each and every time we go out on the pitch, not just in certain matches.

"Now we need to show everyone that we have what it takes to win games week in, week out. There's a lot of ground to make up if we want to get close to the automatic promotion places, but it's still possible and as long as it stays that way then that's what we'll be aiming for."