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Sunday 11 December 2016

Skipper hails Irons' noble effort

West Ham’s Mark Noble (r) and Andy Carroll
West Ham’s Mark Noble (r) and Andy Carroll

West Ham captain Mark Noble insists the Irons have set the standard after they maintained their European charge at West Brom.

The midfielder scored twice as the Hammers breezed past the Baggies 3-0 at The Hawthorns on Saturday to remain in the hunt to qualify for Europe next season.

They have recorded a club-record Premier League points total of 59 and will also beat a previous record low of 13 defeats set in 1998-99 and 1999-00, having lost just six times so far.

Noble has a career-best seven league goals this season and knows there will be further expectation on Slaven Bilic's side next term.

"We've put ourselves under pressure now for next season," he told the club's official site. "We've used the whole squad when we've needed to and we've just gelled this year.

"Especially in the second half, that was a really encouraging performance from us. That's back-to-back wins and another two home games to come.

"I think we feel confident every time we play.

"We're just going to keep trying to win games. We've got Swansea next weekend, the farewell Boleyn game against Manchester United and then a trip to Stoke.

"The way we're playing at the minute, we feel confident against anyone. Don't get me wrong, this West Brom team were great against Tottenham in the week and we had to work hard for our win."

In contrast the Baggies are limping to the end of the season, having failed to win in their last seven games. Craig Gardner missed three decent chances early in the game and boss Tony Pulis knows they were made to pay.

He said: "The break that we deserved just wasn't there. Their first two goals owed a little to good fortune - once you give a team like West Ham those goals, with the players they have, then they punish you.

"We have had plenty of chances - again, at home - but not put them away."

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, insists Mark Noble can still help England at Euro 2016.

The former Croatia boss said: "I was an international coach for six years and the national team is not about the 23 best players in one country. It's also a team, especially in the big tournaments where they are together for six weeks.

"It needs atmosphere and everything - stars and lesser stars and all that. Mark is a great person also. He's playing great. He could help England.

"There are not many but there are no midfielders who are having a better season than he is - constantly from the first game at Arsenal.

"He's unbelievable. He's playing for the club and doing great."

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