Behrami adds extra dimension

Alan Curbishley had plenty of players in action at the weekend that he hoped would make an impact in 2008/09 for West Ham United.

The likes of Calum Davenport, Lee Bowyer, Scott Parker, Julien Faubert and Matthew Etherington all had few chances to shine last season while new recruit Valon Behrami is looking good after just a couple of weeks at the Boleyn Ground. The Swiss international made an instant impression in the 1-1 draw against Villarreal on Saturday - especially for his willingness to get stuck in for the team.

"He is so versatile," said the manager of his No21 who has appeared at right-back and wide right as well in a central midfield three this pre-season. "That is one of the main reasons why I bought him in. When I sat down with him I said 'where do you think your best position is' and he said 'where ever you want to play me'. He likes to get forward. I think when [Carlton] Cole scored he was just behind him on that break-out but he will play wherever we play him."

While Behrami looks good, the manager has been cheered by the others who missed much of the last campaign - including Parker and Etherington while James Collins is back in full training. "Our hope was we would get some of last season's injured fit, Scotty was one of them. He has come back strong and nice and sharp. He needs to be because we are going to depend a lot on him…There are one or two people who really got a lot out of [Saturday] like Matty Etherington who has missed quite a bit of pre-season."

At the back, Curbishley has been pleased with the effort shown by the likes of Davenport, back after a serious neck injury in January, in playing in every single pre-season fixture. Further forward, Dean Ashton is looking good although the manager he admitted he was in cautious mood on Saturday in substituting the No9. "He scored a hat-trick on Monday but he hasn't been well before that. We just felt we would play safe."

Instead against Villarreal, it was Carlton Cole who got on the scoresheet and it was just reward according to Curbishley for a striker who was a constant during last season and summed up the squad spirit that laid the foundations for the games to come. "He has worked hard pre-season and not managed to get a goal, so that was nice for him," said the manager. "We are looking forward to the week and the first game of the season."