Fired Up Fletch


CARL Fletcher insists the fighting spirit amongst the Hammers players can help turn the disappointment of defeat against Derby into victory, and passage into the FA Cup Fifth Round, when West Ham take on Sheffield United at Upton Park.

"We've got a really strong squad of players here and everyone is pulling in the right direction," insisted Carl, who earned a call-up to the Welsh national squad this week.

"It's been a difficult couple of weeks and a few bad results have put the pressure on us a bit. But we've got to be strong and work our way out of this tricky patch and back to form.

"If everyone had different ideas and ambitions then it would be a problem. But the squad are a close group, everyone wants to do well for the team and it's important we go out there on Saturday and prove to the fans that we have the quality to take the team forward.

"I'm a strong believer that if you put the hard work in then you'll get the rewards and that's basically what this week has been about - getting our heads down and trying to work our way through this tough period."

Although the result against Derby was by no means pleasing for Carl and his teammates, one plus point for the former Bournemouth midfielder was hitting the back of the net for the first time in his Hammers career. But the 25-year-old admits his pleasure was tempered by the disappointment of defeat.

"It was nice to get my first goal for the Club," he admitted, "but I would much rather have not scored and West Ham got the result.

"The overall performance was disappointing and we'll need to play better than that against Sheffield United.

"I was disappointed not to have scored before Sunday. I'd had plenty of chances, but it just hadn't dropped for me. It was a relief to finally get off the mark and hopefully I can put a few more away before the end of the season."

But Carl's personal goals come a distant second to his dream of winning promotion to the Premiership with West Ham United. And despite the Hammers dropping out of the Play-off zone recently, he insists that a winning run can still see Alan Pardew's men achieve their goal.

"A few wins, plus one or two draws, and we'll be right up there again," he said. "Basically, we need an unbeaten run over the next month or so to move us back into contention. It's still very tight in and around the play-off places and a good run of form will see us right back up there again.

"Although Sheffield United is a Cup game, I think a win would be a huge confidence boost for the squad.

"Making it to the Fifth Round could be the spark that turns our fortunes around in the League, and we'll be going all out to beat them on Saturday.

"It won't be an easy game. They're a strong, physical side and very good at the back. They beat us 2-0 at Upton Park recently, in what was a poor performance from us, when they proved very difficult to break down.

"But we'll be better prepared this time, we know what to expect, and this will be a much better performance from us.

"Hopefully, it'll be a good atmosphere, similar to the Norwich game, and we can reward the fans with a win."