Kovac keyed up

Radoslav Kovac is looking forward to celebrating his first appearance at St James' Park with three valuable Barclays Premier League points.

The Czech midfielder has enjoyed a productive festive season, helping the Hammers to pick up eight points from their previous four matches to climb out of the relegation zone.

Wednesday's trip to newly-promoted Newcastle United offers Kovac and his team-mates another chance to collect points and continue their ascent of the standings.

The 31-year-old told WHUTV that West Ham have what it takes to win on Tyneside.

"I was very happy with last Saturday because we picked up a very important three points and I think this run can carry on. Our situation is much, much better, but we need to continue to collect points.

"I hope we can keep rising up the table. Everybody has stuck together and we took eight points from the four matches over Christmas and the New Year."

Kovac has been an influential figure in Avram Grant's side in recent weeks. Indeed, in 13 league and cup appearances this season, West Ham have lost just twice.

The defensive midfielder has started three times in the club's run to the Carling Cup semi-finals and will be eyeing another appearance when Birmingham City visit the Boleyn Ground for the semi-final first-leg next Tuesday evening.

For now, though, Kovac is fully-focused on helping West Ham's Barclays Premier League cause.

"It's a very big game against Birmingham and it's very good that we're in the semi-final and so close to the final but for me Premier League points are much more important.

"Of course it would be nice to play at Wembley again after I played there for my national team, but for me it is more important that we pick up Premier points."