'We've got to be ready'

Matthew Upson said he and his West Ham United team-mates must be up for the fight at Stoke City.

The Hammers captain believes Avram Grant's side will have to win the physical battle first if they are to achieve their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season at the Britannia Stadium.

Upson epitomised the spirit required in last season's meeting in the Potteries, scoring with a towering header (pictured) before suffering two whacks to the face courtesy of Stoke pair Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth.

Despite needing stitches to fix an eye injury caused by Huth's flailing elbow, the England defender is relishing the opportunity to defeat Tony Pulis' side and start climbing the table.

"We're massively better than bottom of the table," said the skipper. "We've got opportunities to put things right and I think once we've got that solidarity and consistency we'll start to pick up results.

"I'm so looking forward to this game at the weekend. I want us to turn up as a group feeling positive and really go to win the game. Yes, it's a difficult place to go, they've got their tactics and they structure their team well around it, but if we can deal with that and hit them with some quality, there's no doubt we can win the game.

"It's going to be a physical game, but we've got to be up for that. We've got to put our heads in places where we don't want to put them and be prepared to get them kicked off. If we can do that and then play with the ball, we can beat Stoke. We do need to do that first and foremost - it'll be a good test of our character."

Matthew Upson

While four straight league defeats has not been the ideal start to the new campaign, Upson is remaining optimistic that the Hammers have what it takes to start winning games regularly.

Among those positives are the eight new players who joined the club during the summer transfer window - two of them being Nigeria FIFA World Cup forward Victor Obinna and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger. Upson believes both have the quality to make a real impact for the club this term.

"Victor is a good player. In training, his finishing has been really good. He's been taking his chances. If he settles in and relaxes into the game a bit more, he'll score some goals for us.

"I think we've got some good situations. We've got a couple of players to come back into the team to strengthen - Thomas Hitzlsperger should be fit in a couple of weeks' time and he has got something to offer with the ball. I think we've got plenty going on."