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Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Monday, April 30, 2012
West Ham midfield star Mark Noble is full of respect for Cardiff as the team prepare for Thursday’s play-off showdown in Wales
West Ham midfield star Mark Noble insists that the players must get the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion out of their heads or it could cost them dear in the play-off clash at Cardiff City tomorrow night.
The Hammers beat Hull City 2-1 at Upton Park on Saturday, but Southampton’s thrashing of Coventry City meant that it was the Saints who matched on to the Premier League leaving West Ham with the lottery of the play-offs.
And it is something that the squad will just have to get used to.
“Obviously we set out for automatic promotion and I said to the lads after the game, we had better get our heads round it quick,” said the 24-year-old, who is the club’s current longest serving player.
“You could tell that we were disappointed. We wanted to go up straight away, so we need to get that disappointment out of our head quickly and concentrate on Cardiff City, because they are a top team, they have got a good manager and we know what to expect.”
After a win apiece in head-to-head matches between the two this season, Noble knows only too well just how tough a prospect Cardiff City will be in the two-legged match.
“They have had a great season,” said Noble. “They lost to Liverpool on penalties in a cup final and the likes of Kenny Miller and Peter Whittingham have scored goals.
“I know we lost to them at home to a late goal, but we played them up there not too long ago and had a great game there.”
The Hammers won 2-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium back in March thanks to goals from Kevin Nolan and George McCartney and Noble is hoping for something similar tomorrow night.
“We need to take our away form into the game and hopefully come back with a lead,” said Noble, who has bagged eight goals in claret and blue this season, seven of them from the penalty spot.
“Then, with the form we have shown in our home games lately against Brighton and Hull where we have scored goals and won matches, it is important we carry on that form into the play-offs.”
West Ham need to keep their nerve going into their semi-final tie and Noble, with 216 appearances behind him already for the Hammers will be one of the experienced voices in the dressing room.
“We need to keep doing the same things,” he insisted. “I know the play-offs are massive games, but it is the same size ball, it is the same colour grass and the same white lines, plus we have played Cardiff twice already this season.
“We know what to expect and with the experience in our squad hopefully we have enough to go to Wembley.”