Size is important to Green

WEST HAM goalkeeper Robert Green believes that the club do not have the strength of squad to make a successful assault on the European places this season, writes DAVE EVANS. The 29-year-old will join up this week with Fabio Capello s England for a friendl

WEST HAM goalkeeper Robert Green believes that the club do not have the strength of squad to make a successful assault on the European places this season, writes DAVE EVANS.

The 29-year-old will join up this week with Fabio Capello's England for a friendly against Slovenia and the big World Cup qualifying clash with Croatia at Wembley next Wednesday, but he still had time to reflect on the position that his club find themselves in.

He believes West Ham will find it even harder to compete with the teams vying for Europa League places than they did last season.

"Yes, it will be more difficult I think," said Green, who has five England caps to his name. "We've got a smaller squad and other teams have improved. I think it is going to be a lot closer at the top with other teams up there contending all season."


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Green has certainly begun the season well for the Hammers. He has kept two clean sheets in the opening three Premier League games, while last season it took until the 14th game of the season before he achieved a shut-out.

West Ham finished ninth in the end last season, but Green is worried whether the squad has enough depth to go better this time round.

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"For us, when you are looking at the senior pros, we have got maybe 14 or 15 players," he said. "When you look at the side we've got then it is a good side, but then you look at the squad and the level and the size of that squad.

"It is a squad that is going to have to battle through the season because the guys who did the work last season are going to be the same ones doing it this season."

Those players had to put in plenty of work on Saturday at Ewood Park, with the defence so effective that Green hardly had a shot to save in front of England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence.

"I had nothing much to do," admitted the former Norwich City goalkeeper. "The defence played really well. We knew what was coming, but we knew that we could deal with it.

"We've got two lads at the back who are pretty decent and they can deal with a lot of things and they did today.

"A clean sheet is fine for me. If you go into every game and keep a clean sheet then you are a pretty good goalkeeper. If you had said at the start of the game, there would be a minimum of shots on target, I would have taken that.

"It was a game where as a defence we coped well and that is what we can take out of it."

West Ham have earned four points from three games so far this season, and Green feels that they could have had more.

"Last week against Spurs was disappointing," he said. "It was a competitive game and one in which when we scored we thought we had a decent chance of winning.

"It took the wind out of their sails when we scored and likewise it did to us when they equalised.

"But as disappointing as last week was, we have probably played well in one and a half games out of three, but still taken four points.

"We played well at Wolves, and in patches against Spurs. The Blackburn game was tough, but we felt we could have played better."

Green has certainly shown his international class so far this season, but after an up and down England career so far, he is careful not to count his chickens when it comes to being the man in possession of the number one shirt.

"I've got the same chance as everyone else who is playing at the moment," reflected Green. "The manager has said he is taking it on the club form, who's playing well and who is training well.

"Realistically, you take it as you see it, and I'm not going to question that.

"As I always say with things like this, there is stuff you can control and stuff you can't control, and the thing I can control is how I play for West Ham."

Green may think his club is struggling to make a bid for a place in Europe, but on the form he is showing, it seems that he is on course for making a real impression on the world stage. A good result at Wembley on Wednesday and England will have booked their place in the World Cup in South Africa next summer.

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