Defensive Boost for Pards

As West Ham United return to Premiership action at Aston Villa tomorrow, Alan Pardew admits he is delighted to have Danny Gabbidon back in his side.

It was no surprise that the Welsh international's comeback against Norwich last week coincided with a return to winning form, and the Hammers boss can now look forward to having his full quota of defenders available.

"We've suffered with injuries, and I'd like to think that that little period is behind us now," says Pards.

"Having Danny Gabbidon back makes a big difference to us. My back four is back together again now and that's great because we've been a little bit loose in that area.

"It's no mystery that Danny's been fantastic for us, and that was highlighted especially while he was missing."

New arrival Yaniv Katan also made a cameo appearance at Carrow Road, and has sufficiently impressed the manager so far.

"He did well against Norwich and I've been impressed by his progress already. He's settled in very quickly, like Yossi did. He was terrific for the reserves on Tuesday, I wanted him to play but I took him off early in case hes 'got a role to play on Saturday."

Villa, however, pose a tougher challenge for the Hammers after a recent resurgence of form that saw them remain undefeated over the Christmas period. Revenge may also be on the mind of David O'Leary's side following that 4-0 reverse in front of the Sky TV cameras at the Boleyn Ground earlier in the season.

"They've picked up really well," says Pards, "and they are a great club with great traditions, so you've got to expect them to have a spell during the season when they come good - and they're bang in that spell now.

"Gareth Barry is suspended, which is a plus for us because he's a good player, but it's going to be a tough game. We want to get back to those standards we set ourselves earlier, which we got back to against Norwich, where I thought we played very well.

"The 4-0 win at Upton Park was our best result of the season and that will be on David O'Leary's and his players' minds, so we're up against that as well. It's extra motivation for them and will make it a little more difficult than it already is."