Niall: Teddy could play on even longer

He may have signed a new one-year contract at Upton Park last week, but Teddy Sheringham could go on for another two or three seasons at the highest level.

That is the view of West Ham United's Head of Technical Support Niall Clark, who has been astounded by the levels of fitness and desire displayed by the 39-year-old striker this season.

"Physically, Teddy could play on for another two or three years if he stays injury free," says Niall. "Obviously, when you get to Teddy's age, the muscular system takes longer to recover from exertion

"However, his biggest attribute, in my opinion, boils down to one word - desire. To have the drive and willpower to keep training at his age is fantastic.

"Just the other day at training, it was about a minus three wind-chill factor, yet he was out there, giving it 110%, then came in and did a core and weights session in the gym.

"As long as he keeps that desire, he could play for another two or three seasons at least because, physically, he is in superb condition."

Niall is now working hard on ensuring that Alan Pardew's squad remain fit and fresh for what is commonly known as the 'business end' of the season and he admits that, when it comes to grabbing the opportunities that now lie in front of them, the players' mental state is just as important as their physical condition.

"We have a programme set out," he reveals, "and I could tell you now what the players will be doing on every day between now and the end of the campaign, depending on cup games and replays of course.

"Hopefully, we will just keep injury free - a little bit of luck needed there of course - and enjoy a strong finish to the season. The main thing for the players is not to get complacent. It's been a good season so far but there is still a lot to play for.

"Physically, the players are at a high level and it is now just a case of ticking them over to be ready for the matches. The real test is mentally, because they have an opportunity to finish on a real high and need to show the same desire and determination they have done so far this season."

Niall is also busy preparing the plans for our pre-season schedule ahead of the 2006-07 campaign and, with no end-of-season play-offs to worry about for the first time since Alan Pardew's arrival, the players can look forward to an extended break this summer.

"The template is in place already, and that is a result of the position we have put ourselves in this season," he says. "To be able to plan next pre-season as early as March - because we know that we are virtually guaranteed Premiership football next year - is fantastic from my point of view.

"The new season starts later this year, on August 19, because of the World Cup finals, and the players will get longer anyway this year thanks to the absence of the play-offs this time around.

"So they will enjoy their break, and we will have an extra week in pre-season, which should hopefully benefit everyone when it comes to doing it all over again next year!"