Pardew backs big-game players

ALAN Pardew believes West Ham have the big-game players capable of bursting Ipswich's play-off bubble, writes Derek Davis.The Hammers boss said: "Our players have proved that their character is sound this season.

ALAN Pardew believes West Ham have the big-game players capable of bursting Ipswich's play-off bubble, writes Derek Davis.

The Hammers boss said: "Our players have proved that their character is sound this season.

"These are big-game players and that will hopefully come to the fore on the night."

Pardew is also acutely aware that defeat will come to the team that makes the most costly errors and his side need to exploit Town's weaknesses, just as they will probe the Claret and Blues' soft spots.


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Pardew said: "We know that as a squad we've all got to play well but the team ethic is excellent here. We'll play and work as a team and it's our performance as a unit that will be crucial.

"We will be as strong as our weakest player. To play well our weakest player will have to be right at the top of his game, because that's often the area that will cost you.

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"But everyone needs to play well. We've all got to be on our mettle and I've got no doubt that we will be come Wednesday night."

The 30,000 crowd at Portman Road will help the London side, according to Pardew.

He said: "We've shown this season that we like the big occasions and that can only be a positive thing going into a game as tense as this.

"We've won at some tough places this season, where we've had to show a lot of character and spirit ,and I'm confident we'll respond in the right ways.

I think there's only one occasion since I've been at the club when we haven't performed on the big stage.

"That was in the play-off final last season, and that's something we don't intend to repeat."

Like his rival manager Joe Royle, Pardew is looking for a good start, but this time he intends to hold on to it.

He said: "The start of every game is always vital but for us at the moment it is seeing the game through that has been a problem.

"That's something we've been working on, making sure we control the game. Obviously if we are trailing coming to the end of the game then we'll be pushing forward and looking to get back in it.

"But hopefully we can get off to another excellent start, just like we did at Upton Park, and then make sure we protect the lead and look to kill the tie off by nicking something on the break."

The Hammers only change to their starting line-up is likely to be Mark Noble instead of Bobby Zamora, who has been struggling with a calf problem.

Christian Dailly is fit but Pardew is expected to stick with Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward in the centre of defence, while Tomas Repka will keep his place – although he could be replaced if (when) he gets booked, especially if the game gets as heated as expected.

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