Curbs preparing for Middlesbrough match

Alan Curbishley believes the Hammers have found their momentum in recent weeks and will be fully charged when they face Middlesbrough on Saturday.

"The last two games against Spurs and Blackburn, the work ethic in terms of their stats has been a lot better," he said. "The only time before that we'd reached those levels was the Manchester United game, which tells you something. We have started to work harder and we have started to put the mileage in.

"I think as a team, their overall contribution has impressed me. But one or two individuals have taken the baton up and I think that you could see that once we got back on level terms against Blackburn there was a bit of a surge.

"The Spurs game, I think we went through every emotion in that game. In the end, perhaps in a different situation we might have settled for a point but we went for it and got done at the death. We are in a three-pointer situation. We need to get three points.

"But in the last few games I think the penny has dropped a bit. The least we can expect is that they work as hard as that, as individuals and as a team and give us a chance because the Spurs and the Blackburn stats are up there with the Man United stats, they weren't there for the Charltons and the Readings and some of the other games we've played."

Curbs admitted that this week's international break had played havoc with the squad's routine somewhat.

"It's been a bit difficult because of the break and having so many players away," he said. "But I think everyone is looking forward to the Middlesbrough game. It's another opportunity if we can get a result, to put pressure on the other club around us - some of them have difficult games. So it could be a lot healthier for us after the weekend but we must get our three points.

"I think the players have worked in the last two games as hard as they have all season and we've got the results from that. Now, going into the Middlesbrough game, it's the least we can ask. There were a lot of positives to come out of both games. I think the players are looking forward to this weekend's game and that's the big difference."

With Carlos Tevez scoring twice in the last two games, Curbs paid tribute to the Argentine forward's diligence.

"His work ethic has captured the fans imagination," he said. "That's the first requirement you need and he's taken that on board since he's got in the side. I think the fans have responded and it's something we need to keep going.

"He does a lot of his work through short bursts and the difference in the last couple of weeks is that he's been doing his work in the final third, instead of dropping off and doing it in the middle third.

"He's been prominent in a lot of the attacks, getting behind people and forcing the issue. We've asked him to be a bit more direct. He has a great rapport with everybody here and he's enjoying the fact that there are a couple of other players here like Kepa and Luis Boa Morte who can converse with him."