Clarke Backing Hammers Top-flight Chances

CLIVE Clarke arrives at Upton Park confident that Alan Pardew's Hammers can make a big impression on the Premiership this season.

The 25-year-old Republic of Ireland international was delighted to agree a four year deal with West Ham United after arriving from Stoke City for £275,000 and is looking forward to taking on the top-flight for the first time.

"When I knew that West Ham United were interested I was really keen to come," he said.

"It's a huge Club and out of the three promoted teams they have the best chance to survive and progress in the Premiership.

"I had some great times at Stoke, but it's been a dream of mine for some time now to play in the Premier League and I'm delighted that West Ham have given me that chance.

"I first heard about the Club's interest about two or three weeks ago, and I'm just pleased that everything's been sorted out now and I'm a West Ham United player.

"Now I just want to get stuck into training and try and impress the manager enough to get a place in the team."

Clive joins the Hammers with just two weeks left until the Premier League season kicks-off against Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park on August 13th.

It does not leave the left-back much time to catch the eye of boss Alan Pardew, if he wants to secure a spot in the starting line-up. But that will not stop the determined Dublin-born defender giving it his all to be involved against Blackburn.

"I've come in pretty late for pre-season so it's going to be that much more difficult for me to force my way into the team," he confessed.

"It's always a bit easier when you start pre-season with a new team, but that's the situation and I'm just going to concentrate on doing my best in training and hopefully putting myself into the manager's thoughts.

"If I can put in some good work over the next couple of weeks then hopefully I can force my way into the team. But at the end of the day, the Premier League is a long season and we're all part of a squad of players that is looking to do their best for the Club.

"Having players fighting for their places is just what the Club needs and hopefully I can add strong competition for a couple of the places in the first-team."

Clive is looking forward to meeting up with his new team-mates, but having spent his entire career as a stalwart of the Stoke City defence, it will be an unfamiliar introduction to the Hammers squad.

"I only really know the rest of the squad from playing against them," he said. "I've heard that they are a good bunch of lads though and I won't have too many problems settling in.

"The times I've played against West Ham they have always been tough to beat and they played very well to beat us 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium last season.

"I watched the Play-offs and was impressed with the way West Ham made the most of their momentum.

"There are some great players at the Club and I've been really impressed with the set-up I've seen so far."

"Stoke are a good club and I'm grateful to them for giving me my chance. But this is a good time for me to be making the step up to the Premier League and hopefully I can show people that I can play at the highest level."