Ton-derful Noble has wow factor!

IT WAS a typical reaction from Can-ning Town born, West Ham supporter Mark Noble when he was told that Satur-day s appearance at Blackburn was his 100th in claret and blue, writes DAVE EVANS. WOW! he said with a hint of awe in his voice. Someone told m

IT WAS a typical reaction from Can-ning Town born, West Ham supporter Mark Noble when he was told that Satur-day's appearance at Blackburn was his 100th in claret and blue, writes DAVE EVANS.

"WOW!" he said with a hint of awe in his voice. "Someone told me earlier that I was the longest serving player here, and I'm only 21, so to score in your 100th game is a nice milestone."

It certainly was, and it came in fine style with a superb shot with the outside of his boot that beat Paul Robinson and nestled into the far corner.

The England under-21 midfielder described his fifth goal of the campaign with typical modesty.


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"To be honest, I'd just given the ball away, so I was desperate to win it back which I did, and from there it just seemed like I was running for ever," he explained.

"Luis made a good run and managed to pull it back for Diego and he couldn't get a shot off so he laid it back to me. To be fair, shooting was the only option I had on, and really only one out of 50 of those comes off and today it did."

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Had West Ham not been beset by injuries in their midfield, with the loss of Valon Behrami and Jack Collison, Noble may well have missed out on playing in the last couple of games as his form has dropped off recently.

It is a situation that he can't quite put his finger on, but a change of role on Saturday at Blackburn certainly helped him to rediscover the form that made him such a crowd favourite at Upton Park.

"The manager always says he is going to keep faith in me," explained Noble. "I started off really well, had a little calf injury, but then I came back and I felt I was playing well again.

"But I had a little dip in form, I don't know what the reason was, but it happens to players. It happens to everyone, but hopefully I am slowly beginning to pick up my form again and I will be able to go strong for the rest of the season."

Saturday saw Noble in a more advanced role with Scott Parker and Radoslav Kovac as twin holding players, and it seemed to work in Noble's favour.

"Yeah, I really liked it," he insisted. "I was playing central today, but with all the injuries we have had and the personnel we have had missing you have to play a few different roles.

"When you have got the respect for a manager like Zola, you don't mind where you play for him, he treats you the right way and that's why I'm happy to do that.

"But I felt really comfortable today, especially the first half. Second half I didn't really touch it that much, but in the first half I felt I was back to playing as I know I can play.

"I've not really been worried about my form because I've got a lot of belief in my ability. Obviously I was playing out of position sometimes and to be fair I just stuck with it, kept working hard for the team and the hard work really paid off today, so it is nice to get on the scoresheet and to come away from home and get a point."

With Collison and Behrami out for the rest of the campaign, Noble has a vital role to play in the Hammers midfield, and he is confident that he can help the team reach their European goal.

"We are in position and we have to keep playing the way we are," said Noble. "We have 'Coley' back for the next game which is important for us, so if we can battle as we did today, I'm sure we can finish in seventh."

Carlton Cole is important, but so too is a fit and flourishing Noble. His form may have dropped in the last month or so, but after Saturday, West Ham fans will hope that he is back for good.

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