Mark Noble is set to return to action in Tuesday’s ‘massive’ Premier League derby with Crystal Palace at London Stadium.
The West Ham United captain has returned to full training after overcoming a painful bruised foot suffered in the 1-1 draw with AFC Bournemouth ten days ago.
And, having missed Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Wigan Athletic, Noble is eager to mark his return by leading the Hammers into the top half of the table for the first time this season.
“We can’t sit around and lick our wounds, as we have two important Premier League fixtures to play this week, starting with the visit of Crystal Palace to London Stadium,” he told the Official Programme.
“We all wanted to have a good FA Cup run this year, but the manager’s main remit when he came into the Club was to get us out of the relegation spots, and that’s what has happened.
“Now we need to totally focus on being in the Premier League next season and, when we have a bigger squad next season, we can really attack the FA Cup.”
West Ham start the midweek slate of Premier League fixtures in eleventh, six points above the bottom three and just two behind Everton in ninth.
With the Toffees entertaining Leicester City and tenth-place Watford on the road at Stoke City, a home win could easily see the east Londoners rise to ninth by the time they travel to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Another win there and Noble and company would be sitting on 32 points with 12 matches still to play, but the Hammers’ all-time record Premier League appearance-maker is taking nothing for granted.
“These games this week are massive,” the skipper confirmed. “They’re all big games, but these days every Premier League game is important, as you don’t know where your points are going to come from.
“Swansea City beat Liverpool, just a few days after Liverpool had beaten Manchester City – that’s just the way football is now, so you’ve got to be on it in every game, otherwise you’ll get beat.”
The Hammers roared into a two-goal lead in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park back in October, only to surrender two points when Wilfried Zaha scored a late, late equaliser.
Noble knows Roy Hodgson’s team possess the quality to hurt their cross-city rivals again, and has called upon the Claret and Blue Army to make it as difficult as possible for them when they visit Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“Palace are good team and they’re in decent form. They’ve got good players like Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye, Christian Benteke and, of course, James Tomkins who was here with us.
“They’ve got top players, so we need to play as well as we can to get points, but we’re at home and I’m sure the crowd will create a big atmosphere for us and drive us on.”