Benni back in business

Benni McCarthy is delighted to be off the mark in West Ham United colours and is eyeing a repeat showing in Friday night's match with Panathinaikos.

The third friendly of the summer will take place just across the Austrian border in Kitzbuhel and will mark the end of the squad's eight-day stay in Bavaria. McCarthy has been pushing himself harder and harder every day to be ready for the new Barclays Premier League season and his goal last weekend has helped no end.

McCarthy rattled in a spectacular volley to seal a fine 2-0 victory against VfL Borussia Monchengladbach, latching on to Julien Faubert's hooked cross with a piledriver from the edge of the area. Since then, he has been out on the training pitch every day, bidding to impress new manager Avram Grant and his coaching staff.

"Everything is going very well," he said. "We are working hard. It is hot but the boys have been giving everything. The spirit is coming back and hopefully the way things are going with a good atmosphere and environment now and everybody is looking forward to the 14 August. It has been a good pre-season so far."

Reliving his goal after a hard Thursday morning out on the training pitch, McCarthy paid tribute to the efforts of his team-mates. "It was instinct," he said. "It was great movement, we played with good inter-passing. Mark Noble played in Julien on the right. Obviously you know with Julien you have to get yourself into the box and just hopefully the ball will reach you for a header or a shot.

"He always provides good crossing. I was just delaying my run a little bit. Everybody was going to the near post and I just stayed a little bit back. It was good for me that the ball came to the edge of the area.

"Volleying is my thing. I work on that in training regularly. I was thinking I might take a touch because it was too high but the two defenders pushed up. I knew with the pace of the game I wouldn't get much time. I thought if I have to hit, I have to give it everything.

"It was great for me that it came off. I was happy with that and it was my first goal for the club. I hope that we can push on against Panathinaikos."

Benni McCarthy

It promises to be a tougher test on Friday with the Greek champions having warmed up with a Tuesday defeat of VfL Wolfsburg. McCarthy, who joined the club back in February only to see his first few months blighted by injury, knows the main aim of the contest will be to build fitness but he wants the team to maintain their run.

"I am motivated for Friday, we want to win again. We then have a couple more games next week and it won't be long before the real deal of the Premier League. We have to be ready for that and that is where we want to make our mark. We are working incredibly hard to show the fans what we are made of in the new season.

"I feel good. Fitness wise I think we are all doing well. Everyone looks sharp in the routines and in this heat, we are executing the training very well technically. We are looking good physically and mentally. Hopefully against Panathinaikos we will show that.

"It will be a big squad. Some of us might not play as long as we would like but if we get a run, for how ever long, we have to take it. We have to get used to playing again and it will contribute to us getting into the rhythm of competitive football."