Gabbidon back in the groove

Danny Gabbidon is determined to protect his place in the West Ham United lineup as more players return to fitness over the coming weeks.

The Wales central defender has struck up a solid partnership with Matthew Upson and said he was feeling the benefits of an extended run. Indeed, the pair's first start as a defensive duo may have come in the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on 6 October but the club have not tasted defeat in any of the subsequent six matches.

"The first couple of games I was a bit rusty and I thought I could play a lot better," Gabbidon told WHUTV. "I feel as though I am getting better with every game and we have had some decent results. I am fairly pleased with how it is going but I have got to keep playing well to stay in the team because there is a lot of competition waiting to get in there."

Alan Curbishley has plenty of options at centre-back with James Collins and the currently sidelined Anton Ferdinand both hoping to force their way into contention after run-outs this season already. Behind them are Christian Dailly and Calum Davenport along with two of the club's brightest Academy prospects in England youth internationals James Tomkins and Jordan Spence.

Gabbidon, and the ever-impressive Upson - who is the only outfield player to have played every minute of the club's 13 league games this season - are the men in possession though and the Wales defender is enjoying every minute. "[The team] have slipped up a couple of times but we are on a decent run and the whole back four are playing well. We are not conceding too many goals," he said. "The rest of the team are all working hard and we are scoring goals at the other end as well."

Proof of that commitment came in Sunday's 1-1 derby draw with Tottenham Hotspur, when Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe, who missed a last-gasp penalty, all tried and failed to make a significant impact. In looking back at the contest, Gabbidon admitted he felt frustrated at having to settle for a point after Michael Dawson's header past a stranded Robert Green had cancelled out Carlton Cole's opener.

He said: "I thought we had a few chances and probably could have finished the game off in the first half but they came back strong. They got a goal back and they kept going because they wanted to win as well so, with the penalty at the end, a draw was probably a good result. I suppose we are probably a bit lucky we didn't lose so we will have to be happy with a draw. It was a good save from Greeny."

Green's form has been a major factor in the club's progress, along with the experience and endeavour provided by Lucas Neill and George McCartney at full-back and Gabbidon was the latest to sing his praises. "He has been top drawer. You can't really fault him for the first goal as he has got us out of a few tricky situations. He has done really well and obviously the penalty save made up for his mistake. He has been superb. He is a good person to have behind you." No doubt the England goalkeeper would say the same about the No4 in front of him.