Lucas back after China trip

Lucas Neill returned from a trip to China this week with Australia - only to be facing two of his international team-mates when the Hammers take on Middlesbrough this Saturday.

"They're extremely good players," Lucas admitted. "Mark Schwarzer is an extremely good shot stopper and a highly respected keeper. Mark Viduka is up there with the best strikers in the Premiership and probably in-form at the moment as well. But they've got other players too that we have to keep an eye on. It's going to be all hands to the pump.

"It's never nice to play alongside your international team-mates one week and against them the next. But friendship goes to one side and it is business as usual.

"We desperately need the points again and I think we're going to play Middlesbrough at a good time. We'll shake hands before and after but during it'll be about the battle."

The Socceroos won their match against China 2-0 in Guangzhou and Lucas said: "It was an interesting experience. It was nice to get two wins in a week. It was a good performance from our boys and a good style of play, a different style of play under humid conditions but I thought we did extremely well.

"It was nice to have a little taste of the Orient. We stayed in Hong Kong for a few days, which is always exciting. It was good fun."

But, despite clocking up the air miles, Lucas says he is feeling fully refreshed after the long round trip.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "I'm quite experienced with travelling. My body clock and the way we prepare and recover is probably just subconscious now because we're so used to doing it. As Australians, we're always flying here, there and everywhere. It's just part of our regime now.

"Sometimes it's good to go on such a trip just to give you a little bit of a change and a refreshener. But the timing wasn't the best for the club because we'd just come off a win. I think if we'd gone into another game sooner rather than later we would have kept that momentum going a lot sooner.

"It's important that we pick up where we left off regardless of the break. I always look forward to the international games. To play for your country is an honour, but at the moment West Ham is more of a focus.

"We're playing Middlesbrough at a good time. Belief is strong, confidence is up and we're playing at home. I think with the crowd behind us, if we can get them involved early, it's a game that if we start right, we will win."