High praise for Parker

Alan Curbishley has described Scott Parker as a "Trojan" as the midfielder works hard to return to fitness at the Boleyn Ground.

The England midfielder has been ruled out for at least six weeks with a new knee injury suffered in a collision with Cristiano Ronaldo during the 29 December victory over Manchester United. "This one we couldn't account for," said Curbishley, as he emphasised how his summer signing was fully committed to his return having already overcome ligament trouble earlier in the campaign.

He said: "He has gone for a tackle. Ronaldo's fell on him and pushed his knee in. He is a strong lad and he will work so hard to get back." Adding that Parker, who has ten appearances and one goal this season,  would "take it on the chin", he described the No8 as a "Trojan" - someone who was willing to persevere whatever the setback.

The manager added: "The frustrating thing for me is that the first few weeks of pre-season the tempo was set by [Julien] Faubert, Parker and [Craig] Bellamy - three big signings for us. They come into the club and were determined to do well. In one fell swoop we lost them all."

However, with Faubert and Bellamy almost back, things are looking up generally and Curbishley was pleased fans had already adjusted their expectations over the first half of the season. "Our fans realise that at the moment, the players are giving everything they have got," he said. "The frustration is there for everybody. We know we are a strong squad when we get it all together."