Rita ready for action

Herita Ilunga is back to full fitness and ready to play his part in lifting West Ham United up the Barclays Premier League table.

The Hammers face Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool over the coming fortnight and the experienced defender knows victories are the order of the day.

West Ham travel to St Andrews on Saturday aiming to record a morale-boosting success following last weekend's heart-breaking 1-0 defeat at Arsenal. Despite their lowly position in the Premier League standings, Ilunga insisted victory is not beyond them.

"We did very well at Arsenal. We were compact as a team. Sometimes we had some chances on the counterattack. For the future, it's very important to remember our first half because it was very, very good.

"We can win at Birmingham. We have to win. We don't have a choice. We need three points to start very well our season. Now, we have six points and we need nine after the next game, nothing less."

Ilunga has also warned his club-mates to keep a close eye on his compatriot Youssuf Mulumbu next Wednesday evening.

The pair were both born in Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo, initially moving to French football, then on loan to the Barclays Premier League before making their transfers to their respective English clubs permanent.

While left-back Ilunga has impressed since swapping Toulouse for West Ham in summer 2008, Mulumbu has also been earning rave reviews since joining West Bromwich Albion in February 2009.

Herita Ilunga

The Hammers defender has lined up alongside Mulumbu for his country in the past, but recently the defensive midfield player has taken a self-imposed break from international duty to concentrate on helping the newly-promoted Baggies to make a superb start to the 2010/11 campaign.

A combative presence in the centre of the park, the 23-year-old even managed to net a rare goal - his fourth in more than 50 appearances for West Brom - in the recent 2-1 win over Fulham at The Hawthorns.

"He's a very good player, but he's young," Ilunga explained. "This is his first year in the Premier League so I'm looking forward to seeing him on the pitch.

"He's still young and at this moment he has said he doesn't want to play for the national team as he prefers to play for his club. Maybe after, he will be back for us."

Ilunga himself remains an influential figure for his country, captaining the Leopards in their impressive 1-1 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying draw in Cameroon last month.

Some erroneous reports claimed the 28-year-old had scored DR Congo's goal in Garoua, when it had in fact been netted by his namesake, AS Vita Club striker Yves Diba Ilunga.

"I captained them in the last game because our captain did not come. The reports said I scored but it wasn't me! It was another Ilunga who is a striker!"