Noble needs to play

Mark Noble has spoken of the determination in the Hammers ranks to keep on erasing the memory of Newcastle United - with the next opportunity being the small matter of the Carling Cup semi-finals.

The club's longest-serving player featured in that 5-0 defeat last Wednesday and never wants to go through a similar experience again. He lined up once more on Saturday and voted man of the match in the 2-0 FA Cup triumph against Barnsley. Noble will hope to keep his place against Birmingham City in Tuesday's tie, eager to do is bit to remind that the Magpies mauling was a one-off.

"What happened [at Newcastle] was horrible," Noble said. "It was horrible to be involved with but we needed to put that in the back of our minds. Saturday could have been a massive banana skin but we came through it. We should have scored more goals in the first half and their keeper was pulling off all sorts of saves but in the end we managed to get into the next round.

"I thought we dominated the first half and played really well. When you are one-nil up in the cup, the opposition have still got a chance. We needed to freshen it up in the second half and we got our second goal and put it to bed.

"I needed to play again. I was out for nearly eight weeks and I thought I could just come back and play at Newcastle. I was wrong. I felt terrible. I said to the manager I needed to get 90 minutes under my belt."

So to Birmingham and the midfielder said the message from the manager was to play with freedom. "He is a positive person and he tries to instill that in us to go out and play. It has not been going the best for us but we turned it around over Christmas. Two wins can take us up to eleventh and we have a run of games in February against teams around us.

"A club like this should not be in this position, with the players we have got and the fan-base. But we are and we have to dig ourselves out of it again. If we can do that then hopefully we will have some firm building blocks for next season."

League concerns aside, Noble admitted that the thought of representing his boyhood club at Wembley was firmly in the back of his mind. "A semi-final gives you something to look forward to. We want to beat Birmingham over two legs and be at Wembley. That is our aim. It would be fantastic. "