Hammers Arrive Home

THE West Ham United squad touched down at Heathrow airport from their pre-season tour of Sweden on Wednesday morning, with boss Alan Pardew praising a successful trip.

He said: "We couldn't have asked for a better start to our pre-season campaign. We've had three wins out of three, two clean sheets and scored nine goals, which is an excellent return for three pre-season games that were more geared towards fitness and physical preparation.

"In terms of fitness, the players are further along than we expected them to be at this stage, which is a massive boost to our preparations for the new season. The squad have worked extremely hard on this trip, they've really risen to the challenge since returning after the close season and hopefully that rate of progress will continue throughout pre-season and into the Premier League campaign.

"Our players are really determined, there's an excellent mood around the squad and we're really seeing the benefit of that out on the training pitch at the moment.

"Tuesday's game was quite competitive, the opposition had come to play, but we really matched them and scored some good goals in the second-half to come out on top. I couldn't be more pleased with the results we've had on this tour and it's a great platform from which to build."

Pards saw Czech striker Petr Mikolanda strike twice in the second-half to secure his side's victory over Vastra Frolunda, and admits he'll monitor the player closely over the coming days, with him likely to figure in Saturday's trip to Yeovil Town.

"Petr took his goals well," he said. "We haven't had a lot of opportunities to look at him so we'll probably have another look at Yeovil. The same goes for our trialist goalkeeper Juraj Bucek and we'll make a decision on them soon."

The Hammers boss was also full of praise for the team's host town of Kungsbacka and all the people that helped make the trip possible.

"The town and the people of Kungsbacka have been fantastic," he said. "The staff at the hotel and all those people who helped organise this trip have done a great job and it's been very successful for the Club.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sweden and we go home with a lot of very good memories from an excellent tour."

But go home the Hammers must and continue their preparations at Chadwell Heath, with the Premier League season just over three weeks away. Exciting times for everyone connected with West Ham United.

"These are very exciting times," agreed Pards. "You can't help but feel excited as the season gets closer, because this is such a huge achievement for the Club and everyone is looking forward to being back in the Premiership.

"Obviously there's lots of hard work to be done before the Blackburn Rovers game, but every day it gets nearer a part of you does feel the excitment. These are exciting times to be involved with West Ham United. The Club is moving forward and the atmosphere around the place is fantastic.

"The Premiership is going to be a huge challenge, but we're up for it, we're looking forward to it and we're determined to give it everything.

"A good start is going to be very important for us, which is why the work we do in pre-season leading up to that first game is so important. It's a home game and that will be a huge advantage in itself. Upton Park will be packed to capacity and when it's like that there is no bigger asset to the team.

"I've got one of the best back-room staff's in the country around me, I've got a squad full of talented young players who are full of exuberance and we feel that we have what it takes to achieve a strong finish in the League.

"But there is still a great deal to do as we get ready for the new season. It was a great start to pre-season in Sweden and now we've got to move forward and hopefully continue the good work at Yeovil on Saturday.

"We can't look any further forward than that, and hopefully it will be another strong outing for the squad."