Plenty of positives for Curbs

Alan Curbishley was left "really pleased" after his side returned to Boleyn Ground action with a creditable 1-1 draw against an excellent Villarreal side.

Although the visitors are earlier in their pre-season preparations, Manuel Pellegrini's men showed plenty of the class that saw them comfortably beat Barcelona to second spot in Spain behind Real Madrid last season. "They are a terrific side as we know," Curbishley said of a starting eleven that included three Euro 2008 winners in Joan Capevila, Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla. "In the last two seasons they have come on unbelievably well."

It was winger Cazorla who found the net for the club nicknamed the Yellow Submarine, following a delightful one-two with Mexican international Guillermo Franco on 36 minutes. It left Robert Green with no chance but the opening West Ham United goal was a similarly impressive move that finished with Carlton Cole scoring inside a minute.

Fittingly it began with Matthew Upson - who was wearing the No6 shirt for the final time before it was substituted permanently at half-time in memory of Bobby Moore. He found Matthew Etherington with a pass forward. The on-form winger then got to the byline before crossing for Cole to slam in from close range. "We got a great start," Curbishley added, but he was equally delighted with the form of youngsters Kyel Reid, Zavon Hines and Freddie Sears in the closing stages. The latter thought he had scored the winner late on but was adjudged to have just strayed offside.

"As the game wore on, especially in the first half, they got comfortable and knocked it about. In the end, I was really pleased with the young boys that came on and give us a bit of a lift. They have been playing a bit of the pre-season. I just wanted to give one or two of them a bit more out there in front of a big home crowd. I was delighted."

Curbishley also had praise for a "terrific crowd on what was a special day for us" with more than 20,000 braving the driving rain in east London to support the side before next Saturday's return to Barclays Premier League action against Wigan Athletic. The manager added he was "looking to try and add" to his squad, having given out of contract left-back Ben Thatcher a run-out in the first half. He also rested Dean Ashton at half-time and welcomed back Lee Bowyer for a second-half appearance.

While he is considering possible additions, Curbishley added that George McCartney would be assessed on Monday after his illness while Jonathan Spector is due back at the club in September to step up his rehabilitation after hip surgery. James Collins has been in full training all week and is getting closer to being in contention for his own return to action.