Fulham the focus for Noble

Mark Noble has told WHUTV he will be raring to go when West Ham United return to action against Fulham on Saturday week after a welcome rest.

The 20-year-old midfielder has of late felt the effects of a hectic season and busy summer before that, culminating in him being forced to withdraw from last weekend's 1-1 draw against Birmingham City during the warm-up. Having played a full 90 minutes the previous Tuesday for Stuart Pearce's England Under-21s in a European Championship qualifier, Noble was always going to be a substitute but did not feel quite right before kick-off.

"It wasn't a pulled hamstring, it was a little bit of fatigue over the last week or so that I have been feeling. The manager said 'don't risk it, it is better to miss one game than miss four'. I just took a decision to rest it and I will be back for the next game I am sure." After a weekend off, Noble will hope to have a similar impact at Craven Cottage as in the home game against Fulham last month when he made the winner for Anton Ferdinand.

"You need the little breaks," he said. "I can rest the hamstring and I will be fully fit for Fulham," he said. The international breaks are nice for some of the players because they get a rest but when you are involved in a qualifying campaign you don't. Stuart Pearce needs to put his strongest team out because it is a qualifying game. It is always good to play in them but as I said we have got a nice little break now."

Noble has been a key performer of late, so much so that he was voted whufc.com's player of the month for January in an online poll of supporters. "I am over the moon that the fans have appreciated the way I have been playing lately and they are enjoying my performances." Central to that last month was his nerveless display against Liverpool when he scored from the spot in the last minute having run more than 13km during the game.

"To beat Liverpool at home summed up a good month. We need to push on and get in them European places. We seem to take more points off the bigger teams than we do with the lesser teams. It is important that we keep playing, getting results." Noble was referring specifically to the 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic and last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Birmingham City at home.

"We need to take the points from these games," Noble added. "They are the games that are going to get you in the European places. We have got Fulham away next, that is going to be a tough game. They got an unlikely win against Aston Villa so we need to go there with a strong team and put a performance in."

Speaking of the rest of the season, Noble claimed "we have got nothing to lose" before adding: "It is a similar situation to last season at this stage. Everyone thought we were down so we can just crack on now and really give everything we have got to put the points on the table because that is the most important thing. If we do that I am sure we can consolidate and keep on catching everyone up."

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