Clive Comes Good

AFTER a wait of almost three months defender Clive Clarke finally made his first-team debut for West Ham United in the Carling Cup Third Round clash with Bolton.

And although the result did not go Hammers way the Republic of Ireland international was delighted to get off the mark for Alan Pardew's men.

"It was good to play for the first-team," he admitted. "It's been a bit of a long wait and I'm glad to have got that first game for the senior team out of the way.

"Unfortunately I picked up an injury only two days after arriving at the Club, playing in Holland during pre-season. I twisted the ligaments in my ankle and that kept me out for a while.

"I've been fit for probably the last four weeks though, but really the lads in the first-team have been playing so well recently that it's been tough to get into the 16, let alone the starting line-up.

"That's why I was pleased to get a game in against Bolton. It may have been the League Cup rather than the Premiership, but it was against a very strong team in Bolton and I was delighted to get 75 minutes under my belt.

"Hopefully I can use this start to push on a bit more and get a few more first-team games in. There's lots of competition for places in the squad, but all I can do is train hard as use chances like the one I got against Bolton to impress."

Clive played at left-back, with the normal incumbant of that position, Paul Konchesky, playing ahead of him on the left side of midfield. It was a ploy Pards has toyed with using and Clive felt comfortably operating down the left flank with Paul.

"I was pleased with my performance," admitted Clive. "I'm a left-sided player and although left-back is where I've played the most I've got no problems with playing a bit further forward.

"I know the manager has wanted to try Konch and me down the left side just to see how things worked, and overall I think it went okay. Like I say, I'm comfortable anywhere on the left and to be honest I'd play anywhere just to get a place in the side."

That is the struggle for the players on the fringes of Alan Pardew's first-team squad at the moment, but Clive is pragmatic about the difficulties of breaking into a team that has made such an encouraging start to the Premiership season.

"It's a very difficult team to get into at the moment because the lads are doing so well," he said. "I've had a few niggling injuries that have stopped me playing in as many Reserve games as I would have liked, but even so, pushing into the team is tough for anyone right now.

"But that's really what you expect at a club like West Ham United. When I came here I knew it would be tough to force my way into the first-team. I've just got to keep plugging away and hope that my chance comes along."