Mark of improvement

Mark Noble believes he is getting back to his best under West Ham United manager Avram Grant.

The former England Under-21 captain capped an impressive few weeks by being named man of the match in Saturday's 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Fulham.

Noble puts his recent renaissance down to Grant playing him in his preferred position of central midfield. There, the 23-year-old has dovetailed superbly with Hammer of the Year Scott Parker, with both playing an influential role in the club's four-match unbeaten run.

With Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger hoping to return to action soon after the international break, the lifelong West Ham fan knows he is going to have to keep producing the goods to stay in the starting XI.

"I'm enjoying my football at the moment. I'm looking forward to every game and I just want to keep improving. I had a little spell when I lost a little bit of confidence and wasn't playing to my best. I was playing out of my position but now I feel I'm playing in my best position and slowly getting better every game.

"The manager said 'Go out and play' and that's obviously what I want to do. I'm playing in the centre of midfield and that's where I want to play. I'm playing with Scotty and we obviously understand each other and we're keeping the ball well in games and controlling games when maybe two or three weeks ago we were off the cuff.

"You have to have competition at clubs or else you get sloppy. Thomas is a fantastic player, we all know that, but I'll fight tooth and nail for my place in the team."

While Noble is pleased with his own form, he was also quick to praise the contribution of his manager and team-mates.

Striker Frederic Piquionne has hogged the headlines by scoring in each of West Ham's last three matches, but the midfielder also highlighted the form of Victor Obinna and Carlton Cole.

"The manager knows the players here like to play football and when you've got the likes of Freddie and Victor up front and Coley to come on, we know we've got a threat now and teams will be scared of us. We played really well in games and lost, but we're gelling together and looking forward to the games coming.

"Sometimes the gaffer needs to make changes and he's done that. Victor and Freddie are playing fantastic at the moment and Coley is when he's coming on. He's not sulking or throwing his toys out of the pram and he's being a fantastic pro. We all know what sort of player Coley is and he'll get back in the team, I'm sure of it.

"The manager is paid to make decisions like this and it's paid off for him at the minute because Freddie is on fire and scoring goals and that's what we need."

At the other end of the pitch, Noble also had words of encouragement for goalkeeper Robert Green, who has been in scintillating form in recent matches. After making a match-saving stop from Dickson Etuhu on Saturday, the No16 believes the stopper must be close to an England recall.

"Greeny is the same every week. During the week he trains hard and is the same every day. I haven't noticed much of a difference. I'm sure goalkeepers make mistakes and they get highlighted more than players' [mistakes] do. Greeny is going to be as good as he always is.

"He's had a couple of mistakes in the last few months but hopefully they're gone now and he can crack on. We all know what a fantastic goalkeeper he is.

"He's an English player and I understand what people think about England - they are so proud of their country - but it was a genuine mistake and he obviously didn't mean it. He's a good bloke and sometimes he was unworthy of the criticism that he got. Then again he's bounced back and has been fantastic the last two weeks and we can't complain.

"Hopefully [he'll get his English place back], but you'd have to ask Greeny about that. If he keeps playing like that, it'll be hard to keep him out."

Focusing on Saturday's draw with the Cottagers, Noble admitted the Hammers had not played to their best, but pointed to the resilience shown to come from a goal down to grab a share of the spoils.

"We've got mixed emotions - we wanted to win but obviously Fulham are a tough team, a well-organised team and they play well together and have been together for a couple of years as a team and they play like that. In a way, it was a good point but we wanted more out of the game.

"We came back well. If we'd gone one down two or three weeks ago, we would have crumbled but we aren't doing that now. We're playing together and we're sticking together as a team and that's what we're going to need.

"It's just a case of players getting to know each other and getting to know how the manager wants us to play, the systems the manager wants us to play and we've gelled. We're looking forward every week to the games because we know we can win them."