Sheringham expects to win

VETERAN Hammers hit-man Teddy Sheringham is confident that three points against Ipswich today will keep them in with a great chance of automatic promotion.

By Derek Davis

VETERAN Hammers hit-man Teddy Sheringham is confident that three points against Ipswich today will keep them in with a great chance of automatic promotion.

Sheringham, who is struggling with an ankle injury picked up in the fortunate 2-2 draw at Rotherham, will be making his 599th league start if he trots out at Portman Road this afternoon.

He has seen it all before and is not overly concerned about being outside the play-off places with more than half the season gone.

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Sheringham said: “I feel we can still make our way towards automatic promotion.

“It's going to be very tough and we're a few points off, but potentially I think as a team it's still possible to get up there.”

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Sheringham's son Charlie is now with the Ipswich Town Academy and will be watching at Portman Road this afternoon.

With three goals in two games over the festive period, his former England and Manchester United dad has now amassed six goal in seven outings, and 11 goals in total for the Hammers in an injury-hit season makes him their leading scorer.

Much of his supply comes from reigning Hammer of the Year Matthew Etherington, who scored a magnificent goal against Town in last season's play-off semi-final victory at Upton Park.

He is relishing pitting his wits against the Blues again today, especially as they are the team to beat right now.

Etherington said: “It should be a really good game. Ipswich are top of the League and capable of playing some excellent football, so it will be a really tough test for us at their place.

“The play-off victory last season was a very special match, for everyone connected with West Ham. I'm sure after experiencing that disappointment Ipswich will be out to put on a really good performance against us.

“We have to be ready for that and hopefully we'll respond in the right way. Everyone is looking forward to the game.”

With the fighting second-half comeback against Rotherham still fresh in their minds, Alan Pardew's side go into the game positive but Etherington knows the Hammers will need to raise their game to overcome Town.

He said: “We can take heart from the way we came back in the second-half at Rotherham but we conceded two very bad goals in the first-half and we can't afford to do that against Ipswich.

“They have a lot of quality, especially going forward, and we'll need to be very solid at the back and then take our chances going forward.

“Without doubt it'll be one of our toughest games of the season, but also a very important one, and it would be a great lift for the Hammers' fans if we could get a result there.

“We certainly have the ability to beat them, and a result there would be a huge boost going into the New Year.”

Etherington is reportedly a target for Birmingham City and although he is not looking to leave he admits it is a possibility.

He added: “I like it here at West ham and don't want to go but the club may sell me and there is not much I can do about that.”

Steve Lomas has been struggling with a calf injury but is expected to keep his place in midfield with the Hammers expected to string five across the middle to contain Town, leaving Marlon Harewood up front on his own.

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