Ward's Wait Is Over

ELLIOTT WARD learned just an hour and a half before kick-off that he'd be making his full League debut for the Hammers against Crewe.

Some would say it's been a long time coming for the 20-year-old defender, who was tipped for the top before a back injury derailed his progress, keeping him out for the whole of last season.

But Elliott showed few signs of nerves as he turned in an exemplary display against the Railwaymen.

"It was really good to play against Crewe," admitted Elliott. "Every footballer wants to play as much as they can and it's been a bit frustrating for me recently.

"But there weren't too many nerves to be honest. I'm generally quite a confident lad and I believe in my ability to do a good job at this level.

"You do the hard work in training to make sure that you're ready when the chance comes, and it's just a case of going out and making sure you perform.

"I came on late against Reading and played up front when we were trying to get back into the game, but it's really been a case of waiting for my chance and I have to thank the manager for handing it to me against Crewe."

Elliott certainly took his chance turning in a commanding performance. But his full League debut for the Hammers was soured slightly by Crewe's last minute equaliser, which denied West Ham United three points after an otherwise solid performance.

"We played some good football, defended well and limited them to very few chances," he said. "We've only got ourselves to blame for not winning. We knew that three points against Crewe would be important after the Reading result, but unfortunately they alluded us.

 "That's been the story of our season so far. They've been games that we've dominated and really should have won or taking something from and we haven't.

"But the results in the other games went for us on Tuesday, with Reading and Stoke both losing, which just goes to prove that you never know what's going to happen in this League.

"Now it's really important that we pick ourselves up and look to make up for it on Friday. That's going to be another very tough game against Leicester, but everyone in the squad believes in our ability to make things happen for the Club this season and we'll go into the game confident of hitting back with a win."

Elliott was partnered in central defence by his former Academy and Reserve team-mate Anton Ferdinand, fulfilling a pact that they made as youngsters to play together in the senior Hammers side.

"It was good to play alongside Anton again," admitted Elliott. "We played together in the Youth and Reserve teams and we always said that our aims were to play together in centre-defence for the first-team.

"It helps because we've got a good understanding and we know how the other person plays, and it's great that we've been able to achieve that goal at last.

"From our point of view I think we did well and limited Crewe to only a few chances. But it was solid performance from the whole team and really we should have taken all the points."

Elliott now has to wait to find out whether he will keep his place for Friday's clash with Leicester. But the Academy graduate has done himself no harm and with Malky Mackay struggling with a calf injury and Tomas Repka still suspended, Ward looks set to continue.

"Fingers crossed I'll keep my place for Friday," he said. "I've just got to train well and then hopefully I'll get selected.

"It's going to be an important night for us and we need to come out confident that we can put this bad spell behind us and get back on a winning run."