Newton Wants To Stay A Hammer

MIDFIELDER Shaun Newton is hoping his performances in helping Hammers return to the Premiership will earn him a new contract at Upton Park.

The 29-year-old secured the fourth top-flight promotion of his career at the Millennium Stadium, having helped Charlton (twice) and Wolves into the Premiership.

Signed on a short-term deal from Molineux in March, Newton has brought balance and experience to West Ham's midfield. He has lost just twice in a claret and blue shirt and was a key figure in Alan Pardew's re-shaped side that fired Hammers towards promotion with some excellent performances during the final ten games of the season.

But with his present deal now expired he is hoping that form can earn him an extended stay at Upton Park.

"I don't know what will happen yet," he admitted, "but I'd really love to earn a new contract and stay with the Club.

"Hopefully, I did enough during the time I had to convince the manager that I can do a job in the Premier League.

"Since I arrived there has been a tremendous spirit and feeling around the squad. That, more than anything else, helped us make the Play-offs and come through as winners.

"The determination amongst the lads going into the Final was incredible. Everyone was focused on the job and in the Final we just went out and got on with it.

"Last year's result certainly played a part in the build-up, but we approached the game in the right way and thoroughly deserved to win on the day.

"I've been promoted before, but you could see how much this meant to the Club. After everything that the team has been through this season the sense of achievement and relief was incredible."

Shaun was, of course, part of the memorable victory parade that toured the streets around the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday to celebrate the Play-off Final triumph. And it left the London-born winger amazed at the strength of West Ham United's support.

"I knew about the West Ham fans before I joined," he explained. "I'd played at Upton Park a few times and had felt what it was like to be on the receiving end of their support.

"But to play for them and have them behind you is just an incredible feeling. The turnout for the parade on Tuesday was fantastic. Standing on the bus looking out, all you could see was claret and blue everywhere.

"It was a great way to round off the season. We wanted to win it for the fans in Cardiff and then getting the chance to celebrate with them afterwards was great.

"The way they backed us over the run-in was a key part of our success and now it's all come good."

Shaun has plenty of Premier League experience on his side and was part of the Wolves side that failed to retain their top-flight status two seasons ago. But he believes Hammers have got a great chance to be a hit back in the big-time.

"The first season back is always difficult," he said. "But I think this squad of players is ready to make the step up. There is a lot of talented players at the Club who deserve to get their chance at the highest level.

"It'll be tough, and I'm sure there will be a few new faces. But the team have shown tremendous character to come through the Play-offs and I think that will show again in the Premier League next season."