Elliott adjusting to life back at Upton Park

Elliott Ward returned to Upton Park last week following a successful loan spell at Plymouth Argyle and admits that the experience was an invaluable one.

The young Hammers defender, who celebrated his 21st birthday while down in Devon, spent three months with the Pilgrims and helped them steadily rise up the Championship table thanks to a string of consistent performances in the heart of defence.

"I really enjoyed it," says Elliott. "We lost a couple of games when I first arrived but, after that, we went on a great run of just one defeat in nine, going from something like fifth bottom in the table to near the play-offs.

"It was great off the field, too. The way of life down there is fantastic, so chilled out. I had a flat on the Barbican, which overlooked the harbour, and the weather was lovely most of the time.

"I got on really well with the manager, Tony Pulis, and some of the lads there gave me a bit of stick, saying that I was his son because he was always telling me how well I had done!

"Everyone at the club was great, though, they really looked after me and helped me to settle in, and I will definitely go back there in the future to visit all the friends I made."

As well as new friends, Elliott also bumped into an old friend - former Hammers team-mate Rufus Brevett, who signed for Plymouth after leaving Upton Park in the summer of 2004, and incidentally has just moved on again this week, to join Leicester City on loan.

"Yeah, it was good to meet up with Rufus again," says Elliott. "He only lived a minute away from me, and he had a mate who owned a really nice local restaurant, so the two of them did a lot for me when I first arrived."

The Harrow-born defender went on to make 16 appearances for Argyle, scoring one goal in a 1-1 draw at Wolves on New Year's Eve, and became a firm favourite with the club's fans, who gave him a standing ovation after his final appearance against Coventry City last week. Elliott admits it was a wrench to leave Home Park when Alan Pardew recalled him at the end of his third month.

"It was just great to be playing regular first team football again," he said. "Plymouth wanted me to stay for the rest of the season but Alan Pardew said that he wanted me to come back, so I couldn't stay any longer past the three month mark.

"I was a bit sad to leave, because I was really enjoying myself there and had got into the rhythm of playing every week, but it was out of my hands and of course my priorities still lie with West Ham."

Elliott now faces a challenge to add to his solitary Premiership appearance for the Hammers, as a substitute against Bolton Wanderers back in August, and is looking forward to seeing what the remainder of the campaign has in store for him.

"I haven't had a chance to speak to the gaffer since I returned," he reveals, "so I don't really know what his plans for me are, but I'll just work hard in training and see what happens.

"Obviously I'd like to be involved with the first team here at Upton Park, but Anton and Danny Gabbidon have been playing so well and I know it will be hard to get in the side.

"If he feels it would be worth me going out on loan again somewhere else, then I would consider that, but for now I'm just adjusting to being back here and taking everything as it comes."