Nobes making a mark

Mark Noble cannot wait for "two big games" as West Ham United prepare for their North American tour to really get under way against Columbus Crew this evening.

The homegrown midfielder is a popular figure among the squad and as usual has been looking out for the younger players on the trip. Having come through the ranks he knows how important it is for them to feel part of it - as was seen last Thursday in the 4-2 win against Hampton and Richmond Borough . "We have got loads of young lads involved. Joe Widdowson did well at left-back, Kyel Reid, Junior Stanislas and Jordan Spence also come on.

"It was good for them to get that game out of the way. Now we have got two big games and I am really looking forward to it," Noble added. While the young players are catching the eye, it is understandably the likes of Craig Bellamy's involvement that is prompting real optimism. "Bellars looks lively. He got on the scoresheet twice and scored two goals [against Hampton]. You know what you are going to get, he's going to score goals and it is nice to have him back."

The 21-year-old Noble has high hopes for the new season and is determined to add a better scoring rate to his game as well. He was delighted to open his summer account at the first attempt last week. "It was a good ball from Lucas on to Deano's head. He headed it down and I can't remember too much after that apart from I caught it and it rolled in ... I was caught by the keeper at the time but you take that when you are trying to score. You have to put up with a bit of pain."