No fears for Sears

Freddie Sears has spoken of the high confidence in the camp before Saturday's trip to the north-west to take on FA Cup finalists Everton.

The 19-year-old striker made an impact at Goodison Park last season, hitting the post in a lively appearance off the bench as the Hammers drew 1-1 in March 2008. Sears said a point again this weekend might still be enough to keep alive dreams of finishing seventh and ultimately qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.

"Everyone is feeling confident going into Saturday's game because it is a big game," he said. "We need to win because we want to finish seventh and get into Europe. But if we don't win it's not end of the world as there is still the Middlesbrough game. Everyone believes we are still going to come seventh."

Standing in the way are Fulham, who are two points ahead with a trip to relegation-threatened Newcastle United next up, while Tottenham are ahead of West Ham on goal difference before they welcome Manchester City who are just a point behind. "The Premier League is a funny old year this season and anyone can beat anyone and we've shown that this year.

"Fulham are flying at the minute but they've got two hard games. We've got hard games as well, but even if we don't take six points, four or three points may be enough. The manager has told everyone to keep going. It's two more games, let's get as many points as we can from them and see where it takes us."

Like last season, Sears has largely had to content himself with cameos off the bench of late but the England Under-20 international accepts it is all part of the learning curve. When he shone in this fixture last season he was alongside Dean Ashton, while if selected this time around he could partner either Diego Tristan or the fit-again Carlton Cole.

With Gianfranco Zola tipping him for a possible loan spell to aid his chances of playing a big part in the club's future, Sears has relished the experience he has garnered of late. "It's been good coming on for 20 or 30 minutes playing against teams like Liverpool and Aston Villa. It's good for myself and I've just come on and tried to do my best for the team."