Mixed feelings for Pards after Baggies win

Victory at the Hawthorns brought mixed feelings for Alan Pardew. For as he surveyed a Premiership table that all but confirms a top-half finish upon the club's return to the top-flight, the Hammers boss also knew that he had just left a dressing room full of walking wounded, just 12 days before the FA Cup final.

"We're very pleased that we've all but secured our place in the top ten, because we've been up there virtually all year," smiled Pards following the 1-0 victory over relegated West Bromwich Albion.

"To have now fallen down at the end of the season due to the pressure of the cup final would have been really disappointing.

"It was a great win for us because we didn't play very well this evening and, although that's a concern for us, it was good to see our character and discipline get us those three points.

"We were desperate for a victory because we still want to finish as high as we possibly can but with the final approaching, our injury situation means that we're all a bit on guard. It's all a balancing act right now.

"I thought that young Kyel Reid - another one from the academy - came in and did terrific and that's a good sign for us," added Pards, who was forced to promote the 18-year-old from the bench after Matthew Etherington was pulled from the starting line-up as a precautionary measure after feeling a twinge in his abductor muscle during the warm-up.

But the real worry for the Hammers now is Dean Ashton. The £7.25million striker limped away midway through the first half after falling awkwardly in an aerial challenge with Albion's Curtis Davies.

"He felt a twinge in his hamstring and that could be anything," grimaced a clearly concerned Pards. "Potentially, he could be doubtful for the FA Cup final. After being without Hayden Mullins, that would be a big blow because we just can't afford to lose any more of our big players and Deano certainly fits into that category.

"He was very motivated to play this evening because, alongside Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora, he knows that the pressure's on in that striking area. That's one of our real areas of strength for the final and it's why Dean will be so disappointed.

"He's our biggest worry now, he certainly won't be available for Sunday's game against Tottenham Hotspur, and that will now give somebody else a chance up front."

That final high stakes clash of the campaign against the Champions League-chasing White Hart Lane outfit may still be six days away, but already Pards knows that he has an injury crisis on his hands.

"We're having a bad run at the wrong time," he observed. "My guys are picking up too many knocks. Anton Ferdinand (back) and James Collins (groin) didn't even travel to West Bromwich and, while they should be okay for the final, they're both doubtful for the Spurs game. Yossi Benayoun picked up a groin strain in training and we'll have to see how he is and now, of course, we've got to add Matthew Etherington and Dean Ashton to the list.

"There's a lot riding on Sunday's game for Tottenham and Arsenal and I also know just what it means for our fans to put on a good performance against Spurs.

"Ideally, I'd like to play my cup final team but I haven't got any chance of doing that now. I've got to see where we are after training on Friday."