Ward's Waiting Game

DEFENDER Elliott Ward is hoping to force his way into Alan Pardew's West Ham United first-team after making just one substitute appearance in the Premier League this season.

The 20-year-old Academy graduate went some way to impressing Pards by scoring a bullet header in the Reserves 2-1 defeat to Spurs, but knows that a lot of hard work lies ahead if he is to work his way from the sidelines into the senior side again.

"I want to work hard and try and get back into the first-team," he admitted. "It is not easy being out of the side. I want to play for West Ham United, in front of big crowds and try to help the team, so being out of the side is hard.

"But I'm determined to do all I can to get into the team. The lads have done really well, but it's very hard watching from the stands because I want to be out there involved, if not playing then on the bench.

"I'm still learning the game though and time is on my side. Every game that I watch I try and learn something from it and bring that into my own game. I try and take tips off as many people as I can and am always keen to learn new things that can improve me as a player."

Elliott certainly showed his prowess in the air against Spurs, heading home from Hogan Ephraim's corner after only six minutes. But the big defender was still disappointed with his overall performance.

"It was about time that I scored," he joked. "I always go up for the set-pieces and have gone close quite a few times. I connected with that one pretty well and I was pleased to score.

"But during the game I thought that I let things get to me a bit when I should really have been keeping my concentration better. We weren't keeping the ball that well and it got frustrating at times.

"They were a strong side though and took their goals very well. We also had a couple of chances at the other end and might have equalised with the free-kick that hit the bar."

Elliott will now be part of Pards' preparation for the home game against Middlesbrough, as Hammers look to get back to winning ways in front of their own crowd.

And despite a below-par performance at the City of Manchester Stadium, Elliott insists that there is plenty to be positive about.

"We looked a bit tired and lacked some movement against Manchester City," he admitted. "But that said the lads have done really well so far this season and have shown some really good form.

"It wasn't our best performance, but we still competed for long periods of the game and could have got something out of it.

"We know that we need a better performance against Middlesbrough. That will be a tough game, but they've got a UEFA Cup match on Thursday and that might work in our favour.

"The home fans will be behind us, we'll all be fired up for the gamd and hopefully we can put things right by taking three points."