Pards Prepares Players For White Hot Derby

SHOULD West Ham United beat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday they will go above the North London club in the Premiership table.

As manager Alan Pardew pointed out ahead of the London derby clash at White Hart Lane, that is more than enough incentive for the Hammers in what promises to be an atmospheric afternoon.

"If we win then we go above Spurs in the table - that's our focus going into the game," he explained. "What an incentive for the players to have.

"This is a game that's hugely important to our fans and that's what I'll be getting across to the players ahead of the game. Of course, many will already know how important this game is. But if your from Israel or the valleys of Wales you might not be so aware. But I'll certainly be making it clear before the game.

"There is sure to be a great atmosphere. White Hart Lane is a fantastic place to play and usually the stadium produces an open game, which is I'm sure what this game will be like.

"There are certain similarities between the two teams - not least that both have some very good young English players. Many of them will know each other from playing in the various England teams, so they'll be some added rivalry there.

"Many of those young England players are also not in the England team at the moment and very hungry to impress. There will be a lot of very promising young players on show from both sides and it will highlight the incredible strength in depth English football has at the moment."

One of those players will be Hammers full-back Paul Konchesky, who played the second-half of England's 3-2 triumph over Argentina last weekend.

"Paul has been fantastic for us this season," enthused Pards. "It was difficult for him coming on against Argentina and I think in those circumstances anyone would have been nervous coming into the game.

"He started shakily, but I thought he grew in confidence as the game went on and did better. It certainly helped him when Joe Cole came on, who played naturally wide on the left and gave him an outlet.

"It's great for him that he's got the England game under his belt now and I certainly hope Sven has another look at him."

Despite taking 18 points from 11 games so far this season, Hammers progress has been somewhat overshadowed by the achievements of Wigan Athletic, another promoted team holding their own against the Premiership's leading lights.

But Pards admits that he's quite happy to let Paul Jewell's men have the limelight.

"We're very pleased with the way things are going," he said. "We're moving along, quietly picking up points and playing well at the same time.

"This season we've set our stall out to have a go at teams wherever we play, and at White Hart Lane we're certainly going to have a go at Spurs.

"We've played some really attractive football at times and turned in some excellent performances.

"At times we've perhaps been a bit naive and got caught out. You could say it's been a mixed bag in terms of our performances.

"But what is encouraging is that there has been far more good than bad so far this season, and if we continue to improve and approach games with the right attitude then we can achieve our targets."