Tonks on a high

James Tomkins was part of a commanding defensive display at Sunderland on Tuesday night - taking his Carling Cup chance with both hands.

The homegrown Hammer was imperious alongside Manu da Costa, helping the rearguard to repel the considerable threat of England striker Darren Bent and FIFA World Cup star Asamoah Gyan. From that sound base, West Ham United were able to end a 13-month run without a win away from home with a 2-1 third-round triumph.

Speaking to WHUTV, Tomkins said: "The lads are buzzing. It is good to get our confidence back and start on winning ways. We need to get in the habit of doing this now as in the last few games we had played well but hadn't taken anything.

"We did it against Stoke on Saturday. Not many teams go there and get a draw. We were able to build on that with the victory against Sunderland . It would be nice to have a cup run but first it is back to Tottenham in the league on Saturday and that is a massive game."

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Tomkins, 21, said he and Da Costa had to be on guard throughout at the Stadium of Light, with Sunderland having just held in-form Arsenal to a 1-1 draw three days before.

"Before the match we knew they were very quick all along their front line," he added. "We needed to be aware of that and try and keep them in front of us. We did that well and it just shows that we can keep those sort of players out."

Tomkins knows that the manager has plenty of options, with Matthew Upson, Danny Gabbidon and Winston Reid - along with Tuesday night's stand-in left-back Tal Ben Haim - all competing with him and Da Costa for starting berths. As an Academy graduate, he would relish the chance to play Spurs this weekend.

"It would be nice to keep my place. You never know. There have been changes in the team but all you can do is do your best when you get in. The manager will do what he thinks is best. Hopefully we can win because is a massive game for the fans and us as well with our league position. Every game is big for us."

Another hoping to have staked their claim is fellow youth-system product Marek Stech, with the 20-year-old goalkeeper again imperious after his previous heroics in the second round against Oxford United. Tomkins said the keeper has a big future in the game.

"I have always thought a lot of Marek," he said. "Potentially he is a very good keeper. He has all the qualities you need to be a good goalkeeper. He has proved that in the two games he has played.

"He has come in and done well for the team. Credit to him, with all the changes at the club, he has come through well and hopefully in a couple of years he will be pushing on."

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