Hayden Holds Firm

HAVING both signed new contracts at Upton Park recently, Hayden Mullins and Nigel Reo-Coker are looking forward to forging a formidable partnership in the centre of midfield.

Both have received praise from Alan Pardew for the energy they bring to the team, but it is Mullins' work that sometimes goes unnoticed.

Happy to play the holding role in the Hammers engine room, Hayden's assured presence allows the likes of Reo-Coker and widemen Matty Etherington and Yossi Benayoun to push forward.

It's a role Hayden is more than happy to play, even when he feels a little deserted by his midfield partner.

"Nigel likes to bomb forward on these little runs sometimes," explained the 26-year-old, "and he leaves me in the middle on my own!

"But seriously, I don't mind that really. We know each other's game well and it's all about being a team. We work together and have got a good understanding of each other's qualities, which I think is important for any solid partnership to work."

With 12 points from seven games it's been a strong start to the season from West Ham United. But Hayden explains that the team continues to develop and adapt its style to the rigours of Premier League football.

He said: "We're all still learning, and there's going to be tough tests for us throughout the season.

"It's been going very well for us so far, but we know that only working as hard we have been doing will continue to get us the results.

"We came through a very tough test at sunderland in our last game. We didn't play as well as we can, but it was very important that we didn't lose that game.

"The point kept us moving in the right direction and gave us plenty to look forward to going into the international break.

"All the lads have been desperate to get back out there and we're looking forward to the trip to Manchester City.

"We'll want to put in a stronger performance there and we firmly believe that we can."

However, Hayden is well aware of the stern test the team will face at the City of Manchester Stadium on Sunday.

He added: "Under Stuart Pearce City have been very strong and like us have made a good start to the season.

"But we will go out there with confidence and do the best we can.

"While we know that we have to keep working hard, because that's the only way we will get results, the confidence gained from each match will hopefully stand us in good stead.

"There's a great belief around the team at the moment and it's been growing.

"The aim is still first and foremost to stay up. Hopefully we can do a bit better than that, but right now we just want to focus on what will be a tough game against Manchester City."