Dyer return adds to positives

Steve Clarke has spoken at length about how Kieron Dyer will be a 'big addition' to the West Ham United squad for the second half of what is proving a promising campaign.

After three successive wins including a 3-0 win against Barnsley at the weekend, West Ham United are tenth in the Barclays Premier League and looking forward to an FA Cup fourth-round tie at Hartlepool United later this month. A highlight of the victory on Saturday was Dyer's appearance for the last 20 minutes after 16 long months on the sidelines following his double leg-break in August 2007.

First-team coach Clarke was pleased to see Dyer, who went close with a couple of fierce shots and looked to get forward at will, get the reward for his hard work at Chadwell Heath, although he warned there was still some work to be done before he is ready for a first-team start. Clarke said: "You can see that when Kieron came on to the pitch he's got quality. He could have got a couple of goals and he will be a big addition to our squad when fully fit.

"But we also saw when he's made two or three forward runs he struggling to get back so he's lacking condition but that will take time. He's been working on his rehabilitation and only joined up with the group three weeks ago and we are just trying to integrate him into the sessions and work him as hard as we can in the way we like to work."

Dyer is set to continue his comeback with more match time under his belt in the reserve's fixture away at Aston Villa on Monday - a fixture which will be subject to the pitch being playable. "He'll have a massage and then play for the reserves on Monday night. He was working on Sunday and then Monday he plays for the reserves and then if he's very good we might give him Tuesday off," Clarke added with a smile.

The-30-year-old's comeback was pencilled in for the second half and with the Hammers already leading through a trio of strikes from Herita Ilunga, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole, Clarke saw it as the perfect time to welcome the No7 back into the fold. "The thinking was that he knew he wasn't fully match-fit and we knew it would be a gamble putting him on the bench, but we hoped we'd be in a position to bring him on to the pitch just to give him a lift and let him know that everyone was thinking about him. The reception from the crowd was fantastic."

The midfielder's positive attitude has impressed Clarke, as he had to not only deal with the rehabilitation from the double leg-break, but the frustration of having his comeback date delayed. "Obviously it's been difficult for Kieron. No player likes to be injured for the length of time that he has been out but he's always tried to be positive. Coming back you always get little setbacks but we've always worked hard with him to try to keep him happy."

As well as offering Gianfranco Zola greater pace and penetration, Clarke believes that Dyer's adaptability gives the manager further options in midfield as he can be utilised in several different areas. "I'm not going to give any secrets away but when you've got a player like Kieron Dyer you can make many positions for him and many different systems."

Whether Dyer will get another chance to impress against his former club Newcastle United this weekend remains to be seen, with Clarke fully focused on preparing the squad for their bid to make it six games unbeaten on the road.

"I am in a position where my job is to coach the players. When those players come through the door we try to organise the training and prepare for the matches as best we can and I think in the last few games we have seen some better performances and that's a pleasing sign for everyone at the football club."

The assistant coach did re-emphasise the management team's desire to work with a smaller squad at Chadwell Heath. "You want 20 outfield players and three goalkeepers. I think at the moment we are operating with 26 plus three goalkeepers. Maybe you'll get 21 or 22, but I think 20 outfield players with three goalkeepers is ideal.

"It makes it harder with a bigger squad if you want ten versus ten in training. You can have 13-a-side if you want but it doesn't work. Just for organisation purposes it's better to have smaller numbers and you can work better with your team. It's about organisation and structure and if you have 26 you have to leave out 15 outfield players every week and that is a lot."