Curbs in upbeat mood

Alan Curbishley is already seeing the benefits of the club's pre-season tour to the United States and Canada after the first full day of training.

West Ham United arrived in Columbus, Ohio on Friday evening and the squad were immediately down to business on the following morning. The travelling party of 22 players made the short trip from their downtown hotel to the Crew Stadium home of Columbus Crew for a light session that included working away the rigours of the previous day's travelling and getting a feel for the pitch and the hot and humid temperatures.

Morale is high in the camp with the players relishing being back in action. Many supporters have travelled to the city and are taking the chance to see their favourites up close. A small group were also present for the more demanding evening training session at the Crew's Obetz training centre when fans were invited in to watch the players in action, 24 hours before the 5pm local time kick-off on Sunday night.

Curbishley said: "The players are in good spirits and we are looking forward to the week. I am disappointed that a few players are not with us because the trip was designed to help us all get some time together but we have a good squad here. All in all we are together for nine days and I am also looking to use the trip to bring some young lads in and help them get experience.

"We were delighted when we were offered the trip to America and we are looking to show what we are about. West Ham United are world renowned, we have lots of fans in the States and our object is twofold. One is to come here and get fitter for the start of our Premier League season and secondly is to raise our profile and give fans out here an opportunity to see a Premier League side."

The positive mood began when the team started pre-season with a 4-2 friendly win last Thursday. Curbishley added: "The game at Hampton and Richmond was the perfect start to our pre-season matches. We agreed to play for Alan Devonshire and both teams got exactly what they wanted. It was a good night for everybody. Hampton and Richmond had a record crowd and we got most of the senior players 70 minutes of football. It set us up nicely for our trip to America."

The trip also extends beyond the first team with Tony Carr and his Academy staff present and running training sessions with local youngsters, not just in Columbus and next week in Toronto but in other major cities like Chicago and Atlanta. "This is a good opportunity for us all," Curbishley added. "We are looking for two good matches and to see the players benefit from being away together."