Anton's England Delight

ANTON Ferdinand is hoping to celebrate his call-up to the England Under-21 squad with another commanding display at the heart of the Hammers defence this weekend, as Alan Pardew's men travel to Sunderland for the tea-time kick-off.

The Academy graduate has been in superb form alongside Danny Gabbidon at centre-half this season, continuing his metoric rise through the ranks towards becoming one of the most promising defenders in the country.

But Anton is taking it in his stride and concentrating on another tough game for the Hammers against fellow newly-promoted Sunderland.

"It's going to be a tough game up there," he admitted, "especially as they got their first win just last weekend and will be up for it in front of their own fans.

"But we're really confident as well after our results in the last few games. The draw against Arsenal was another positive result and we're moving in the right direction by continuing to put in good performances.

"We just want to focus on playing well in each game, because if you do that then you know things are working. We're putting in a lot of work in training to make sure that our performances stay at a high level and hopefully we can keep this good run going at Sunderland.

"They haven't had the best of starts, but with their first win you can be sure things will start to pick up for them. They'll have taken a lot of confidence from that and it's something we've got to combat.

"The clean sheet against Arsenal was really pleasing, but it's a team effort and everyone deserves credit for that, not just the defence.We're playing well as a unit at the moment and that's been an important part of the way we've been playing recently."

Anton was also delighted to be included in Peter Taylor's England Under-21 squad and admits that it's a great learning experience to go away and play with the England set-up.

"It's always fantastic to go away with England," he admitted. "Representing your country is a great moment for any football, and I am certainly no different.

"It also gives you a lot of confidence because you know that your performances at club level are being noticed. But for me this week it's all about playing well for West Ham United.

"Playing with England, especially if things go well, always gives you a boost when you go back to your club, and I'm looking forward to the England games.

"But right now my focus is on the Sunderland game and hopefully taking what would be an excellent win from the Stadium of Light."