Shaka's Home Pride

SHAKA Hislop insists West Ham United's confidence has not been dented by back-to-back defeats, and the experienced goalkeeper is looking forward to getting back infront of the Upton Park crowd for Saturday's clash with West Brom.

It's a game that some pundits are already suggesting is a must win for Alan Pardew's men, but the 36-year-old stopper exercises caution when talking about so-called six-pointers and believes every game should be approached with the same attitude.

"Every game is tough," began Shaka. "We know that West Brom is an important match, especially at home, but our home record is important to us and every match, home is crucial.

"We'll approach the game with the same attitude that we've shown at home so far this season. It's important that we play our own game and take the match to West Brom.

"They are a good side with some experienced players, so it won't be easy. But there is a lot of belief in the team and we're going into Saturday's game with our heads high.

"This squad has a lot of belief in what it can do. That belief certainly hasn't gone just because we have lost a couple of games.

"That is football, those games are gone now and we have to move on. The best way to respond is to give a good performance on Saturday."

After two spells at Upton Park, and a winner of the Hammer of the Year trophy in 1999, Shaka knows all about the affect the West Ham United fans can have on visiting teams to the Boleyn Ground.

And the goalkeeper believes the fans are going to be a key factor in the team's success this season.

"The fans are fantastic," he agreed. "They create a terrific atmosphere, home and away, and it's incredible as a player to go out there with that kind of support behind you.

"It really is something else to play for the fans at this Club. I had a great relationship with them first time around and I was delighted to get back into the team and play for them again.

"I know that as long as I give my best for the team, then the fans will give their all to back me, and that's the kind of support that any player would thrive on."

Shaka got his chance after a freak training ground injury sidelined number one Roy Carroll, and although the Northern Ireland international is battling back to full fitness, Shaka is certain to be between the sticks against West Brom.

The former Reading, Newcastle United and Portsmouth goalkeeper knows he faces a tough fight to keep hold of the goalkeeper's jersey.

"I know that when Roy is fit again I will face a tough fight for my place," he admitted. "Of course, Stephen Bywater is back from his loan spell as well now and he is another top-class goalkeeper.

"Whether I am on the bench or in the first-team, it doesn't change the way I prepare for a match. You have to be professional at all times.

"I'm also very lucky to have a great defence in front of me. I've been impressed with a lot of the lads, and some of the younger guys like Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward in particular. The lads who have come in this season like Danny Gabbidon and Paul Konchesky have also been excellent.

"They all go out there with pride, aiming to do their best for the team, and that's something the fans can rely on me to do as well."