Pards Praises His Troops

Despite slipping to a third successive Premiership defeat against Chelsea on Monday afternoon, Alan Pardew was full of praise for his battling players and insists they will bounce back once the squad returns to full-strength.

Goals from Frank Lampard, Hernan Crespo and Didier Drogba give the champions a 3-1 victory at Upton Park, with Marlon Harewood's strike at the start of the second half turning out to be a consolation, but the Hammers boss was greatly encouraged by his team's spirited performance and believes it won't be long before they are back to their best.

"We've had a few tricky results lately," conceded Pards. "But I'm not worried because we've got a strong spirit and we can give anyone a game on a level playing field.

"Today, we were facing world-class players while I had to field a team that wasn't up to full capacity.

"We rode our luck and at 1-1 we might just have got something out of the match. It was a big step for us to play the fresh legs of Chelsea at a time when they are on such a good run.

"Taking stock going into the New Year, though, I think it's fair to say that we've always been extremely competitive against teams around us that we've needed to beat and when we've gone into the matches against the really big teams we've always put in an honest performance.

"Right now, we're missing the likes of Danny Gabbidon, Tomas Repka and Teddy Sheringham and we'll certainly look stronger when those boys come back."

Pards was also full of praise for the support of the Upton Park faithful, who backed the players from the first minute to the last and helped create a magnificent atmosphere inside the stadium

"To come up against a team like Chelsea could have been a nasty afternoon for us," he said, "but the stadium was so positive and the fans really got behind the team. It lifted the whole performance and we can be proud of the display we put in."