Specs sets sights on success

Jonathan Spector sees no reason why West Ham United cannot maintain their charge and secure a European spot.

"That was a target at the start of the season - at the very least a top-ten finish and then push for European place," claimed the 21-year-old American international who could feature for his country in a major friendly against Mexico next week in Texas. "We are closing the gap on the teams above us. I don't think there is any quality difference between us and those that are ahead."

Recent long-term injuries for Calum Davenport and James Collins have increased the likelihood of Spector getting more chances to play his part - including at Wigan Athletic on Saturday - but he summed up the togetherness in the squad, which sees team put before individual, with words of sympathy for the luckless duo. "All the boys are disappointed for Calum and James but it will mean certainly mean more opportunities for me. I will just have to make the most of them."

The versatile performer once again made his mark off the bench in midweek. This time being charged by Alan Curbishley to nullify the threat of Steven Gerrard who was "running riot" for visitors Liverpool. With Spector's arrival, the manager changed the system back to a 4-5-1 and the extra solidity in midfield allowed the team to go on and win the game 1-0 thanks to Mark Noble's late penalty - which came about after a Matthew Etherington and Freddie Ljungberg counterattack.

"He [Gerrard] was getting free and in some dangerous positions, so that was my task," Spector said. "It was difficult coming on as a sub - especially when you are meant to cancel out one of their players who is having a good game. I stuck to it, we broke really well on a few occasions and in the end Matt played a great ball into Freddie and it paid off for us."

Spector revealed the team always believed they could get all three points against Liverpool to keep up the pressure on the teams above them. He added; "The very least we were expecting was a draw because we were fairly solid at the back. We didn't give them too many opportunities, but we certainly knew that we could get them on the break which we did.

"They have a number of world-class players. It wasn't just Gerrard that was a threat for us. Everyone did their part defensively from the front to the back four all the way to Greeny in goal. We knew if we kept it tight at the back, we would create a few chances."