Mark Noble is looking forward to getting his first taste of European football as a West Ham United player when Birkirkara come to the Boleyn Ground on Thursday night.
Noble was on loan at Ipswich Town when the Hammers last ventured into European competition to take on Palermo in the UEFA Cup nine years ago, so missed out on that opportunity to feature on the continental stage.
Now that the entire West Ham squad is back together following the staggered training camps in Ireland, Noble and a host of first team stars could feature against the Maltese side and he believes the competitive games will serve his team well.
“These are tough games,” Noble explained. “They’re not pre-season [matches], it is European competition, so if anything it will get your ready for the Premier League campaign
“We’re playing competitive games against good teams.”
He continued: “We met for the first time in Ireland and had a really good camp there. We’re still getting to know one another, the Gaffer on me as a player and vice versa, and hopefully it can be a good relationship going forward.
“He came in on the first day and said we’re going to train hard but with a smile on our face and that’s what happened in Ireland.
“It’s pre-season, so sessions are going to be tough, the transfer window is open so change will happen, but from what I’ve seen so far as quite an experienced player who’s had a few managers here, the future’s looking bright.”
As for the season ahead, Noble is looking forward to paying the Boleyn Ground the best possible tribute.
He added: “At the end of last season I said that this year is one of the biggest in the Club’s history. The way the Club’s going, the signings we’re making and the money we’re spending shows that we want to go in the new Stadium not just as a Premier League team, but one that’s ready to move onto a Stadium like that.
“We’ll have comings and goings, players who want to move on and players who want to come here. We’re back from Ireland now so we’ve joined the rest of the lads. We’ve had a couple of days training together and it has been bright.
“Once we get our team together and our squad together we can really push on and become a team that’s capable of playing in this year’s league and move onto the new Stadium.”
There’s still time to buy your tickets for Birkirkara, priced at just £10 Adults and £5 U16s when purchased before midnight on Wednesday. Buy now at whufcboxoffice.com