A baptism of fire for Nouble

FRANK NOUBLE is learning his trade from the best. At Chelsea it was Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka who were the kings of the training ground, now the 18-year-old is studying under the tutelage of Carlton Cole, writes DAVE EVANS. Mind you, however good y

FRANK NOUBLE is learning his trade from the best. At Chelsea it was Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka who were the kings of the training ground, now the 18-year-old is studying under the tutelage of Carlton Cole, writes DAVE EVANS.

Mind you, however good your instructors may be, there is no substitute for practical experience and Nouble certainly had to learn the hard way at Upton Park on Saturday when he was thrown in at the deep end.

Not only was the youngster played as a lone striker, he also had to contend with international defenders William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen.

"It was a tough game, but I was really pleased to have played today," said the former Chelsea academy boy. "I got a bit tired towards the end, but I haven't played for two months now, so I suppose you could expect that to happen."


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Nouble was drafted into the starting line-up because of injuries to Cole and Zavon Hines as well as the suspension of Guillermo Franco and despite looking a little raw, he certainly caused the Arsenal defence some problems.

"The plan was just to put myself about, play as well as I can and use my body to hold the ball up as often as I could," he said. "The senior players certainly helped me a lot, especially Julien Faubert. They were talking to me all the time."

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West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola certainly kept his final team selection close to his chest before this cup tie. Nouble, like debut boy Fabio Daprela, did not know he was starting until day of the game, but he felt that it helped his nerves.

"I didn't know until the last minute," he confirmed. "Two hours before the game the manager let me know and I think it helped me.

"You always have to be prepared to get out there and play. I was a bit nervous in the first few minutes, but once I got my first touch I felt all right."

Nouble had a couple of half chances early in the second half, first shooting wide after latching on to a pass from Junior Stanislas and then bulldozing his way into the box accompanied by three defenders before his flicked shot was collected by keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

The forward is hoping to establish himself in the future: "I am still only 18 and hopefully I can make more of an impact in games in the future," he said.

"I felt really good out there. It is just my match sharpness which was not quite there for me, but that will come in time."

The young striker has clearly still got plenty to learn, but he is just delighted to have got a chance to show what he can do.

"I am happy that I've got my first start and hopefully now I can get more time on the pitch in league games, be it 10 minutes or 20 minutes, I just really want to play."

In the meantime, he will continue to learn the striking trade. "It is easy to watch Carlton in training because I am with him every day," he said. "I learned from Drogba and Anelka when I was at Chelsea and from Carlton Cole now that I am here.

"I am learning from the best and hopefully I can take it all on board and in a couple of years time, I should have learned a lot."

Cole is expected back in the next couple of weeks, but with the demands of the Premier League as they are, the chances are that Nouble may be called on a few times before the end of the season.

The youngster is keen to play his part and is convinced that West Ham will be a Premier League side next season.

"We had better stay up!" he exclaimed. "I don't want a relegation on my CV.

"I think we will get out of trouble. If we can win a couple of games we will be up to 12th or something like that.

"Hopefully we can start by beating Wolves next week."

After the rigours of the FA Cup on live television against Arsenal, a home clash with Wolves could be just the confidence-boost that the youngster needs.

Will he be given a chance? We shall see.

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