Green reigns supreme

Robert Green has summed up the determination at West Ham United to try and secure a place in the UEFA Europa League.

The England goalkeeper was an unused substitute behind Roy Carroll when the club lost 1-0 at home and 3-0 away against Palermo in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup first round. Having missed out on that occasion, he is eager to help the Hammers return to continental competition next season. "There are still three games to go. It is a target we have got and it is a target we are certainly going for and trying to achieve."

The No1, who is on a run of 85 consecutive league starts since 10 February 2007, is all about the team but admitted that the chance to pit himself against Europe's top forwards could also help his individual claims with England. "I'll take anything that can help me, really. If playing in Europe next season aids my international cause then great. I'm doing all I can, and that's just a bonus."

Green, who could be in with a chance of retaining his Hammer of the Year status, did those chances no harm at the weekend when he claimed his 12th clean sheet of the season in the 1-0 win at Stoke City. He dealt admirably with the home side's direct approach and claimed long throw after long throw into his penalty area from Rory Delap - a tactic Stoke have used with plenty of success this season.

"The management and the coaching staff decided it would be to our advantage to keep it less cluttered in the box. A lot of the goals Stoke have scored from the long throws and set-pieces have been from the second balls. It's better to have a clearer area and someone to head the ball.

"When we watched the videos, a lot of the time it was two or three of the opposition with one Stoke player which didn't really make sense. We went man to man and said 'we'll win the ball', and everyone did that.

"It's just part of being a goalkeeper to try and help the lads as much as I can. The advantage of facing a long throw is they can't throw it straight into the net, whereas at at a free-kick they can hit it right at you. So you can afford to come off your line a little bit more and help the guys out."

Having done just that, Green marvelled at the contribution of those in front of him - not least match-winner Diego Tristan who fired in an unstoppable 33rd-minute free-kick to break home hearts and will go up against several compatriots including Fernando Torres when the Hammers welcome Liverpool next Saturday evening.

"It was a wonderful goal I don't know if he had done that in training or not last week as I wasn't up against the lads taking the free-kicks. Diego is one of the European greats in his time and as he gets fitter we are seeing little glimpses more and more of that as the weeks go on."