Newton Turns Up The Heat

SHAUN Newton without doubt faced the toughest work-out of his pre-season campaign so far against TSV 1860 Munich.

The 29-year-old played the full 90 minutes in sweltering heat inside the Allianz Arena, giving a typically all action display and going very close to scoring a winning goal for the Hammers.

But the former Charlton and Wolves winger was more than satisfied with the 1-1 draw and what proved to be a very good exercise for Alan Pardew's squad.

"They were probably the best side we've played in pre-season so far and they made us work very hard," he said. "They moved the ball around well, tried to play football and with the hot conditions inside the stadium it was a really hard game for us.

"But there was no-one complaining afterwards, because we're more than halfway through pre-season now and you need to be put through it a bit at this stage so you can see what level you are at and how far you need to progress before the start of the season.

"It feels like the squad is in good shape physically after we put in some good work on the Sweden tour and now we just need to gell the team together a bit and work on some technical things before the season starts.

"Generally in pre-season you get the fitness work done first and then the final week or so is all about fine-tuning the team. Of course, with some new players coming in and the Club back in the Premiership all the players are trying to impress at the moment.

"I don't think any player will really feel that their position in the team is safe at the moment, and that's definitely the way it should be. Now is the time to put in some good performances and make sure you impress the manager enough to earn a place in the side for the first game of the season against Blackburn.

"That's what every player is working towards."

Despite the competition for places though, Shaun believes that there is an excellent spirit running through the Hammers squad at the moment.

"Right from the first moment I arrived here back in March there was a really good spirit around the camp," he said. "It was the positive atmosphere that played such an important part in taking us through to winning the Play-off Final and since that victory and the tremendous celebrations that followed there has been a real buzz around the Club.

"We all know that the Premier League is going to be a tough challenge, but everybody is relishing taking on the top-flight and we're all determined to do the best we can for West Ham United."

Orginially signed as cover at right-back for the suspended Tomas Repka, Shaun finished the season playing in his favoured position of right-midfield, where he started against Preston at the Millennium Stadium.

During recent games the versatile player has been fielded at left-back as Pards assess his options, but he was pleased to be back on the right wing for the draw in Munich.

"It's up to the manager where I play and I'll do whatever job he wants me to," insisted Shaun. "I think I've been pretty solid at left-back in the games that I've played and if that's the job I have to do for the team then that's what I'll do.

"On the right is probably where I feel most comfortable though and it was good to be out there against Munich to show what I can do. We're putting together a strong group of players at the moment and it's important that as a player you take every opportunity you can to impress."