Clarke up for Saturday

Steve Clarke was in buoyant mood ahead of Saturday's big Barclays Premier League game with Chelsea.

West Ham United could be boosted by the return of two players from the treatment table. Radoslav Kovac is hoping to have recovered from a thigh strain to challenge for a place in midfield, while Jonathan Spector is in contention after recovering from concussion.

Clarke said: "We should have Kovac back. It's been a strange week, we've been training with nine, ten or eleven players. We actually had 13 players training this morning so we should be OK for a team!"

West Ham secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the Blues at Stamford Bridge when the two sides met in the reverse fixture in December. Clarke, however, is adamant that the team should not approach the game looking for a similar result.

"To win you need to put in hard work and effort. You have to be organised, you have to respect their strengths and you have to be prepared to play against them.

"If you sit and try to defend against them for 90 minutes it will be a long 90 minutes. We look forward to the game. We've been playing well recently, but we haven't beaten one of the big teams yet and it would be nice to start at the weekend."

The Hammers play host to Chelsea just three days before they face a tricky trip to the Camp Nou to play Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. But Clarke is certain that Guus Hiddink and his players will be focused on coming out on top in the London derby.

"They're in the middle of a difficult run of matches with a lot of big games and I'm sure they'll think about resting one or two players against us.

"But it's only a great time to play them if you beat them after a match. Before the game, I'm sure they'll approach it as it's an east and west London derby and they won't want to lose it so it will be a difficult game."

Chelsea's attack could be led by Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, a player Clarke knows well from his time at Stamford Bridge. The West Ham United first-team coach believes that his in-form defence, who have conceded just three goals in their last seven matches, can rise to the physical challenge he will pose.

"I think Didier has been in tremendous form for Chelsea, scored a few goals, but our defenders are playing well. They've defended very well in recent matches, in fact for a long period of time they've defended well. If we can defend as we have been we'll be OK."

Clarke spent a total of 15 years as both a player and assistant manager at Stamford Bridge, but is fully converted to his new side's cause.

"For me it's just another game. It might sound strange but I work for West Ham United now and I'm enjoying my time here. I had great times at Chelsea, it's gone, it's in the past and I have to look forward."

Clarke joined former team-mate Gianfranco Zola in September and, after a seeing their side steadily climb the league table, the pair have never looked back.

"It's been very good. We've put on good training sessions and the players have applied themselves well and worked very hard in training and you see the rewards on the pitch.

"It's worked out well for us, up until now it has been a good season. There are have been a lot of problems and a lot of things to deal with and I think both of us improved, Gianfranco as a manager and I have certainly improved as a coach."

In the race for the seventh place, West Ham United hold pole position, but Clarke is determined the squad will not rest on their laurels and see the task through to completion.

"If the season stopped today we could look back with satisfaction but the season doesn't stop today as we've got another five matches. We're pleased until now but we'd like to see the job out and finish the job and finish seventh.

"[We want to] win as many as we can and get as high up that league as possible. That's my only target in football - finish as high as you can."

After such a successful start to their time with West Ham United, Clarke also revealed he, like Gianfranco Zola, is close to finalising a new deal that will see him commit his long-term future to the club.

"I think Gianfranco is in discussions with the club about extending his contract. The club have approached me about the same and we've had good discussions. But I've only just arrived and they are already talking about extended it which means we've done something right.

"I'm enjoying my time here, I think it was a strange move for a lot of people when I came here but I feel justified in the move."