Skipper relishing top-flight challenge

It is just seven-and-a-half short weeks since Kevin Nolan was lifting the npower Championship Play-Off trophy at Wembley.

However, while the euphoria and feelgood factor from that amazing day lives on within the Club, the captain knows West Ham United have to use that positive energy to consolidate their hard-earned position in the Barclays Premier League.

In the first section of an exclusive two-part West Ham TV interview conducted at the team's Austrian training camp, 'Nobby' also revealed his pre-season loves and hates and explained just how the Hammers will compete on their return to the top-flight.

Welcome back Kevin! It's only a few weeks since you lifted that trophy at Wembley, but it's good to be back, isn't it?

KN - I wouldn't say it's good to be back! No, seriously, looking back over the summer and reminiscing about what happened was great. We got back to where we belong after a long, hard season with a lot of changes. The lads did fantastically well and I think it was what we deserved in the end.

What do you love and hate about pre-season training? It is 90 degrees here in Austria, but you've had to run around in it for hours and hours!

KN - I think the love of it is getting back to seeing all the lads, all the banter and being a kid again after being a Dad and a husband for five weeks. Footballers are like that. You have that camaraderie and you do miss your team-mates after a bit. I would have liked another week off in the sunshine sitting around the pool, I must admit, but it's a fantastic location and we can solely focus on what is going to be an intensive six or seven-week period to make sure we're ready for Aston Villa. This is what it's all about - nothing else but preparing ourselves right for that first game.

Kevin Nolan

How do you keep that energy and positive feeling from gaining promotion and take it into the new Barclays Premier League season?

KN - The euphoria does mean something because we're back in the Premier League. It was nice getting those Nike balls back out today and being able to kick them about everywhere - and me shank them everywhere! It just shows that the hard work we put in during the last pre-season and last season got us our just reward. We just need to focus on consolidating ourselves in the Premier League and, bit by bit, making sure that we stay back where we feel that we and West Ham United belong. We don't think that is in the Championship or in the lower reaches of the Premier League, but we've got to prove that. I'm not saying it's going to happen overnight because it's going to be hard work. This year is going to be about consolidating and making sure we're there for the season after. I'm not getting ahead of myself - this is what it's all about and what we've got to look at. It's just so nice that we got our reward last year and I'm really looking forward to that first day back in the Premier League. Hopefully it'll be a good first day.

What does that word 'consolidation' mean in practice? Targeting the games you can win and those you feel you can gain an unexpected point or three?

KN - I think it's about sticking together. We can't get too upset about defeats and can't celebrate the victories too dramatically. It's all about staying on an even keel and staying focused all season and making sure you don't get too disappointed and become low, because that can transmit into three or four games. What we want is that, if we lose a game, we bounce right back and if we win a game we keep that run going and get undefeated. It doesn't matter who you are playing next, but about who you are playing now. Aston Villa are up first at home and we've got to make sure we win the game because they will be coming thinking 'West Ham have just been promoted' and wanting to win the game too. We've got to be ready and I'm sure we will be and will get off to the start we want.

*The second section of Kevin Nolan's exclusive West Ham TV interview will focus on his thoughts on two new boys - former Bolton Wanderers team-mate and goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and midfielder Mohamed Diame.