Noble's Birthday Best For Dad

IF there was one player aware of the significance of taking a point from a London derby clash with Spurs at White Hart Lane then it would be Academy graduate Mark Noble.

The 18-year-old midfielder is a local-boy and from a family of Hammers fans. So, there was no better place for Noble to continue his fantastic rise through the ranks at Upton Park than White Hart Lane, as he took on the formidable Edgar Davids in midfield and caught the eye with an all-action performance.

Afterwards, Noble could barely contain his delight at the result.

"I absolutely loved it," enthused Mark. "It was just a great day. To take a point off Spurs at White Hart Lane is a terrific result for the Club. They are a really strong side, aiming for a Champions League spot this season, so to get a draw against them is a really good result.

"It was a really strong team performance. We were behind for a lot of the game, but we stuck together as a team, kept going right to the end and got the result we probably deserved."

The England Under-19 captain made the first top-flight start of his career just a day after his Dad's birthday - the perfect birthday present even if Mark didn't know then that he would be starting.

"It was my Dad's birthday yesterday," explained Mark, "and I knew I was in the squad and that I might be playing.

"But I didn't know for sure then so I didn't tell him that I was definitely playing. It was fantastic for him, a really brilliant day.

"I was a bit nervous before the game. It was my first start in the Premier League and the first time I had played for the first-team since the start of the season.

"But I settled down and got into it as the game went on. Especially in the second-half I felt like I was getting into the game and getting onto the ball.

"I thought we thoroughly deserved the equaliser. We kept going right to the end and thankfully Anton came up with the goal right at the end."

With Nigel Reo-Coker out for up to five weeks Mark is now hoping to continue in the team as Hammers face a tough run of games going into December, starting with an eagerly awaited clash with Manchester United at Upton Park on Sunday.

"Hopefully I can stay in there for Sunday's game," he enthused. "It would be brilliant to play against Manchester United, but just playing is all I want to do at the moment, whoever it's against.

"Obviously there are some tremendous players in the team, especially in midfield and it's up to me to play well and keep my place.

"I just want to play as much as I can and keep improving. Hopefully, if I can play this weekend then I can put in another good performance. It should be a great game to be involved in."