Pards looking forward to Pompey clash

While the results may not have been forthcoming in recent weeks, heads have certainly not been down at the training ground, and Alan Pardew insists that his team is not far away from the kind of form that will get them back to winning ways.

The Hammers boss has used the international break to the best effect he can, on the training pitch with the players who didn't have to go away with their countries as well as off it, looking at both what has gone well so far and what hasn't, with the focus being on putting it all into action against Portsmouth on Saturday.

He says: "In terms of the team we have here, I have felt frustrated because we have a really strong squad, but just haven't had the results to gel it all together yet this season.

"I want to get that win that will give us that lift. I look around at this squad and know that it is capable of taking on the top teams and really stretching them, further than last year. I feel that in at least two or three of the games in this run we have had, we have certainly deserved more than we have got.

"We've had time to reflect with the international break. We haven't had too many of the guys on the training pitch because of these games, but the boys who have stayed behind have been terrific.

"We've been analysing what we do well and what hasn't quite worked for us this year and we've found some situations that we were doing better last time out, so the focus has been on all of that and the aim of turning it into a result on Saturday."

Hammers travel to Fratton Park to meet former boss Harry Redknapp and his Pompey side, and Pards has been impressed with how the South coast team have started the campaign.

He says: "Portsmouth are going extremely well and if you look at Harry's career, you will see he has signed players who have been at the late stages in their career and got the best out of them.

"He has done it there again. David James and Sol Campbell in particular, these guys have raised the bar down there and it will be a tough game for us.

"But the key for me is making sure our approach is spot on. When you play at Portsmouth, there is a fantastic crowd and an old-style ground, which can be intimidating, but my aim is for us to be mentally ready for all of this. For me, it is a key element to getting the result we want on Saturday and there's no reason why we can't apply ourselves in this way.

"Harry has been able to pick virtually the same team, everyone fit every week, like we had last year. It's very important, it gives you that base, especially at the back," adds Pards. "I believe that having a team that is solid and well balanced is the key to success in the Premiership."

The Hammers boss is hoping to have almost a fully fit squad, with only a few players having to sit the game out.

Danny Gabbidon got a slight knock playing for Wales on Wednesday but is expected to be fit to play at Fratton Park, while Anton Ferdinand has come back from England under-21 duty free of injury.

Tyrone Mears and Jonathan Spector both came through training this week, as did George McCartney, who has stepped up his fitness and is expected to play a reserve game soon, while John Panstil, who returned to Ghana to meet up with his country's new manager, will not be fit to play.

by Laura Burkin