Gabbs is good to go for Sunday

There were certainly a few hearts in mouths when Danny Gabbidon limped off the pitch in the closing stages of our 2-0 defeat up at Middlesbrough on Monday, and the worry deepened when Alan Pardew admitted that his star defender would be touch and go for our FA Cup semi-final clash this weekend.

However, after some intensive treatment and thanks to his reliable healing powers, the Welsh international has recovered from his minor groin strain and is set to take his place in the starting line-up against Steve McClaren's men at Villa Park tomorrow - a game he admits he wouldn't miss for the world.

"Well, I have been declared fit by the gaffer so I guess that means I am good to go!" says Danny. "I feel fine actually, my groin hasn't given me too many problems this week and to be fair nothing was going to make me miss the game on Sunday. It would have taken something like broken leg for me to sit that one out!"

There was further good news for Gabbs this week, when he made it a double for the defence on Thursday night by scooping second place behind winner Anton Ferdinand in the Hammers News Magazine Player of The Year award, and he was delighted with the recognition.

"Yes it was a great honour," he says. "It didn't surprise me at all that Anton won it as he has had such a great season but it must have been a hard one to pick this year as so many players have done so well consistently all season."

The fact that the original pairing that started the season in the heart of defence claimed first and second in the award voted for by readers of the Club's official magazine shows just how well Danny and Anton have played together despite being new to each other's games when the campaign began.

"Yes I have really enjoyed playing with Anton at the back," says Danny. "We got used to each other's games really quickly and formed a really good partnership. But then when I was injured Anton and James did well and while Anton has been injured, Ginge has come in again and done a fantastic job, so we all know our places are not always safe and we have to keep playing consistently well.

"In all honesty I think we all wish we could have kept a few more clean sheets but then you wouldn't be proper footballers if you were not always striving to be better."

Now the focus turns to our momentous FA Cup semi-final encounter against Middlesbrough tomorrow, and Danny is well aware of the magnitude of the occasion.

"Yes, it's a very important week for the Club," he says. "We have done things a bit differently this week as it is such a huge game and we are all feeling really good and confident ahead of Sunday."

By Miranda Nagalingam