New Heights For Hayden

AFTER putting pen-to-paper on a new deal at Upton Park, Hayden Mullins insisted that Alan Pardew's team can go on to become a major force in the Premier League over the coming seasons.

The 26-year-old midfielder signed a new contract to stay with the Club until 2010, and is now setting his sights on going from strength to strength with West Ham United.

"The Club has certainly got the squad and structure to progress in the Premier League," he explained. "I'm delighted to have got the contract and my future at the Club sorted out.

"It's been a really strong start to the season and we've all been pleased with the way things have gone.

"It's early days yet but hopefully we won't be one season wonders and we'll remain in this division for many years to come.

"For this season survival is our main aim. We feel that we have the squad to achieve something more than that, but we just want to keep going from match to match and try and do the best we can.

"But the aim is to take the Club forward and I want to be a part of that."

Hayden admits that the many of the players are still acclimatising themselves to the rigours of Premier League football, but points to the strong starts made by the Hammers and fellow newly-promoted Wigan, plus the resurgance of Sunderland, to strength of football outside the top-flight.

"We've started well, Wigan are also going really strong and Sunderland have had a win and a point now," he said. "All three teams have got a good chance of staying in the Premiership, but of course it will be tough.

"We feel that we have what it takes, but it's a long season and right now we just want to focus on keeping our form going and making sure that we keep playing to a high level.

"The draw at Sunderland was an important result, because if you can not play at your best and still come away with something it has to be a positive. We'll be determined to play better than that at Manchester City, but the confidence in the squad is still high and there's a great spirit around the dressing room."

Hayden has now settled into his preferred position of central midfield, after spending almost the first year of his Upton Park career as a utility player operating largely at right-back.

And although the versatile former Cyrstal Palace trainee is happy to plug the gaps, Hayden is pleased to be getting the chance at the heart of the West Ham midfield.

"Midfield is probably the position I feel most comfortable with and hopefully that's been showing in my performances over the last few months," he said. "I was happy to play wherever the manager needed me to, but I'm pleased to be getting the chance in central midfield now.

"There are some excellent players in the squad though and it really does keep you on your toes. Like all the players in the team, I know that I've got to keep playing well otherwise there's a player waiting to take his chance.

"That's the way it should be at a Premier League club though. Hopefully we can build on our good start this season and keep making progress in the Premiership."