ALAN Pardew has praised the affect his senior players have had on his young West Ham United squad this season.
The Hammers boss has been delighted with the verve and spirit shown by his players so far this season. In the 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday night no less than eight of the starting line-up were 26 and under, but Pards believes the influence of his senior players has made just as big an impact this season.
"The senior members in the squad have been fantastic," explained Alan. "They set an excellent example to the young players and are great role models in the way they approach the game.
"The likes of Christian Dailly and Teddy Sheringham in particular are fantastic examples.
"Anton Ferdinand is a young man who is growing quickly and I've noticed that he's more mature around the training ground. He's certainly learned a lot from the players around him, as have many of the young players.
"It's all okay at the moment. We haven't got anyone arriving in brand new Ferraris or anything yet, although the car park is still pretty lively!"
Sheringham is one veteran of Pards' squad who must be handled with special care, and after featuring in every game so far this season Alan admits that he will have to assess his former England striker's shape ahead of the trip to Fulham.
"I spoke to Teddy Thursday morning, because of every player in the Premiership he is the one that has to be handled more carefully than anyone," explained Alan.
"He is at an age where we must be careful with him. I'm not sure whether he lives by a different breed to the rest of us. To still be playing at 39 is incredible, but every year that goes by must be more like two or three for him.
"He's been very stiff the last couple of days, after giving what I thought was one of his best performances for the Club against Aston Villa. He's carrying it very well at the moment, but we'll have to see how it progresses.
"We know Teddy won't be able to play every game and Teddy would acknowledge that. It's a case of managing the situation and making sure we get the best out of him."
Pards has had the added luxury of making just one change to his startling line-up in the first four games, which saw Christian Dailly make way for the return of Tomas Repka at right-back for the Newcastle game.
Such continuity has been a great advantage, but Pards does admit that he could be tempted to change the team for the visit to Fulham.
"Having the same team for the last four games has been a big bonus." he admitted. "The team will change and evolve over the course of a season, because no team starts and finishes the season with the same side.
"There is a temptation to change things for the away trip because the way we have been playing has been very open, and away from home that might need adjusting.
"But on the other hand this team really has its tail up at the moment and maybe it will be better to run with it and keep that enthusiasm going.
"It's going to be a tight call and it's something I'll be looking at closely before the game.
"But there is a great level of confidence in the team and that is a real positive aspect going into what will be a tricky away game at Fulham."
Hammers Senior Service