Squad in good shape

Alan Curbishley was a content man at the conclusion of the MLS All-Star Game with the manager seeing it as a vital step towards the new season.

Having seen his team come through unscathed in the 3-2 defeat and cope without two key performers in Mark Noble and Craig Bellamy, Curbishley learnt much about his team and got to see them tested against top-class players in a top-class setting. "I would like to congratulate the MLS team on their victory. For everyone concerned it has been a success. Some goals scored, chances created - it could have been a bit more of a scoreline but everybody came away with something.

"We are two weeks into a six-week programme of pre-season and we needed the fitness work. We certainly got that. It was a good evening and I think everybody can be pleased with their efforts." The manager has been able to cast a close eye over his charges on the trip along with his backroom staff and has been impressed with what he has seen in Columbus and Toronto. "We are looking that much sharper than we did this time last year when we were doing pre-season," he said.

West Ham United head back to England on Friday with a couple of days off before getting back down to business against Peterborough United on Tuesday. Playing such an intense game so early in the summer was not a concern, however. "Obviously the teams that come from Europe to play this game will face the same problems. It is in the start of our pre-season so it is a little bit difficult. Nevertheless we were delighted to be invited.

"We knew our profile in America and Canada was high and hopefully it has got a bit bigger. We have enjoyed our week here. We have been well looked after and everybody has been fantastic to us. Anyone who has come to the game will have enjoyed it ... The goals that the MLS scored were terrific. They showed that they can compete. That was the big thing. The reason for the game is for the MLS to show off their riches and their talent, they have done that. We are really pleased that we have been invited and it will be a big memory for everybody at West Ham."