Cole chuffed

Carlton Cole believes confidence is high for the npower Championship visit of Leeds United after the "statement" made by the midweek rout of Watford.

The England striker is up and running for the season with a goal on his first start in the 4-0 win at Vicarage Road.

Hopeful of keeping his place for the Leeds match on Sunday afternoon, he praised the collective efforts of the side last time out despite being singled out for special mention by his manager once again.

"It was a fantastic performance by my team-mates," he said. "The manager is very chuffed by the way we play, the style of football we played. We weathered the storm in the hard parts of the game and came out on top. We are really happy."

Cole's contribution was a telling one at both ends of the pitch, but he gave plenty of credit to Herita Ilunga for the surging run that led to his strike. ""I am pleased to get off the mark. It was really nice to have a nice tap-in a few more of those wouldn't go amiss for me.

"I would love to big up Herita. I thought he had a fantastic game and for him to be up and in around the box at that stage of the game is amazing for a left-back. He did really well. He didn't have to pull it back for me but he did it nicely."

Cole's defensive duties saw him head away the danger several times when Watford had set-pieces in and around the Hammers area, and he revealed the importance of rearguard strength. "It helps breed confidence. It is two clean sheets in a row, I can't remember the last time we had that it.

"It is brilliant. It bodes well for the goalkeeper, the defence, the whole team really. The manager wanted this. We had to make a statement and I think it really bodes well for the team. The fans need to see that we are serious in this league and a steady performance."

Above all else, he was pleased the team were able to start repaying the supporters for their backing.

"The fans are important in the place we are at the moment. Especially after the dire performances we had last season. We are in this position for a reason, we weren't good enough. So it is good to know they are there supporting us through thick and thin and that is what we need throughout the rest of the season.

"We have just got to stay strong, the fans have to stray strong and keep the faith and hopefully we will get out of it at the first shot."