Parker proving his worth

Scott Parker is bidding to become the West Ham United match-winner again when Reading come calling to the Boleyn Ground on Boxing Day.

After firing in the last-gasp goal that secured all three points last weekend against Middlesbrough, Parker was just relieved to have played his part. "It was really crucial that we came away with the points. With ten minutes left we probably would have said to ourselves we'd settle for the draw. But that's football. I just got in a good position, popped up there and put it in."

He is hoping for another chance to be the hero this afternoon, acknowledging that "the more points you get on the board, the better" at what is a "tough time" of the season. Parker paid tribute to the team spirit throughout the camp. "We are bit depleted at this moment in time, we have got a lot of injuries but what we are doing is grinding out results.

"The lads that are in the team, it's an opportunity for them. We're doing really well and we look forward to keep going on the way we're going. Probably a lot of people didn't know that Matty Upson was really struggling. He's gone in there and played. There were a few other lads struggling with knocks."

Thankfully, Parker is fighting fit himself - having been a shining light in the Hammers midfield since returning for the second time this season from injury on 1 December. The 27-year-old has been ever-present since that game against former club Chelsea and is starting to show the form that earned him three England caps.

"The last game against Everton I could just feel myself getting back to where I need to be," he said reflecting again on the Boro triumph. "I've been feeling a lot fitter and I probably had a couple of chances. I had one chance I could have done better with. It was a bit of a grind if I'm being honest. There's a lot of games coming up and I think the lads found it hard. We were a bit tired at times but we dug in and got the result.

"I'm really happy with the goal and with the win. We didn't start the game so well. It was quite a slow start to the game and we were probably a bit lucky to come in 1-1 at half-time. Second half I thought we dug in and probably had the better of it. It's good to get the win."