Boss - Tomkins played like a veteran’
ENGLAND centre half Matty Upson missed his first Premier League game of the season at Ewood Park on Saturday, but West Ham s reshuffled defence coped admirably in his absence. Upson injured his calf during the draw against West Brom last week, and though
ENGLAND centre half Matty Upson missed his first Premier League game of the season at Ewood Park on Saturday, but West Ham's reshuffled defence coped admirably in his absence.
Upson injured his calf during the draw against West Brom last week, and though he is fit enough to be called up for the England matches in the next week, Saturday's clash with Blackburn came just too soon.
However, West Ham's new look central pairing of club captain Lucas Neill and youngster James Tomkins proved a big hit, as they kept the Rovers' attack at bay with superb performances in the 1-1 draw.
One man who had a great view of the pair's performances was goalkeeper Robert Green and he was full of admiration for both of them, especially the talented 19-year-old.
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"They were fantastic today, I can't praise them enough," said the West Ham number one.
"'Tomka' is coming on leaps and bounds. He is a tall lad, but he is learning that there are players in the Premier League who are so big and so strong, like Jason Roberts today.
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"You have got to know when to stand off someone and when to go in and challenge, and he is picking that perfectly and being clinical out there.
"Every ball that came to James he seemed to win, while Lucas Neill (right) orchestrated from the back as Lucas does.
"He is a tremendous asset to have and a tremendous voice during the game. Particularly one like today when the lads are going to look to him and the other experienced players to guide the younger ones through when there is so much frantic stuff going on - he is invaluable."
Manager Gianfranco Zola also praised the young star: "James Tomkins has been excellent," he said.
"He doesn't look like a 19-year-old, he looks like a veteran. I'm very pleased with the improvement in his game, but the whole team did well.
"Lucas Neill was massive today and Jonathan Spector battled - the team looks well.