Curbs satisfied with Italian job

Alan Curbishley was left satisfied after his team fought back from a goal down to round off their pre-season plans with a 2-1 victory over AS Roma on Saturday afternoon.

Goals from George McCartney and Dean Ashton earned Hammers an impressive win against the Italians, who had taken an early lead through Ludovic Giuly and dictated much of the first-half play - a fact the Hammers boss acknowledged but didn't allow to distract from his aim of preparing for next week's Barclays Premier League opener against Manchester City.

"If you look at the game, we played against top class opposition, who showed at times what they were capable of with some terrific play," said Curbs.

"We took the decision that we would not change the way we went about it just to accommodate them. The Italian sides all play a similar way, with somebody in the hole, but we did nothing about it.

"The reason was because I wanted to give everybody a game in their normal positions, and I am pleased with the way we handled it. Everybody came through it okay and we can now spend a complete week preparing for the visit of Manchester City."

Those final preparations will of course include Ashton, who appeared as a second half substitute against Roma and almost lifted the roof off Upton Park with a stunning 63rd minute winner - almost a year to the day since he suffered that devastating broken ankle while on international duty with England.

With new signing Craig Bellamy looking sharp and Bobby Zamora also in impressive form this pre-season, the Hammers boss has a big decision to make in the days ahead, and admits that Ashton's return has certainly presented him with a selection dilemma.

"We haven't nursed Dean along through the pre-season, but we did today," said Curbs. "I wanted to give him half a game to see how he was, and he wanted to be playing.

"He has worked ever so hard, perhaps two months more than the others, and has come back fully fit. I had never seen him train before, not close-up anyway. The last two to three weeks has been an insight for me.

"Dean must be so happy with the way it has gone. It has been a long year for him, but he will come in tomorrow morning and say: 'Right, I have thrown a marker down, it is up to you to decide what you want to do'.

"Bellamy and Zamora are the competition and I have something to think about now. I wanted to get to Monday morning, to get through pre-season, and then see what is available to me."