Upson upbeat on his return to Portman Road
ENGLAND World Cup goalscorer Matthew Upson returns to his native Suffolk this afternoon (kick-off 3pm) looking for a near full strength West Ham side to turn in an impressive display.
Upson, who used to train at Portman Road as a schoolboy having been raised near Diss on the Norfolk border, is now a crucial figure in the Hammers defence.
He believes that manager Avram Grant will begin to finalise his plans for the new season against Roy Keane’s side before giving his first choice side a chance to impress against Deportivi La Coruna at Upton Park on August 7.
Pablo Barrera and Frederic Piquionne are set to make their senior Hammers debuts and with Keiron Dyer, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole also in the squad, Ipswich are set to be in for a big test.
“I’ll have people texting me for tickets,” said Upson. “And it’s a good fixture for us against a good team with a good manager.
“I think they’ll be up for it – and so will we.
“It will be a tougher test for us than Wednesday’s 2-0 win at MK Dons and these games are designed to get various things out of them.
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“The obvious object is to win, but you’re looking at everything – fitness, tactics, and other aspects of the game.
“There will be signs at Ipswich but the last fixture in the pre-season calendar you generally see what the starting XI is going to be and the shape we’re going to play.”
Dyer, 31, is set to start for the Hammers looking to make an impact this term after a number of injury-ravished seasons.
Raised just a goal kick away from Portman Road, Dyer has already come through 45 minutes of action three times with the Hammers this pre-season.
Dyer was a product of the Town academy and he made a big hit as a teenager before being sold to Newcastle in July 1999 for �6million.
Income from his transfer helped George Burley build a side that won promotion to the Premier League the following year.
Keane is also set to play his strongest XI to give fans an indication of the side he plans to field at Middlesbrough when the Championship season starts a week today.
David Norris is expected to be available to face the Hammers after suffering a back problem with Jon Walters and Tamas Priskin the likely front runners with young Luke Hyam possibly playing in front of the back four.
Town fans will get their first sight of new signing Mark Kennedy at left back, while Conor Hourihan, who was signed from Sunderland last month, could get a midfield berth.
“Conor has a good attitude and has a chance to become a player,” said Keane.
“We were short of players and started with him at Leiston and Bury on consecutive nights, which was a bit unfair on him.
“But when I was his age I would have played every night and he did well.”
Damien Delaney, Connor Wickham, Luca Civelli, Colin Healy and Alan Quinn will all be missing through injury with Town having one more game – at home to a Tottenham XI on Tuesday – before the visit to the Riverside in seven days.