Comeback kid Kieron will lift Hammers, says Clarke

PUBLISHED: 10:53 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:56 05 October 2010

While speculation rages over possible departures from West Ham this month, assistant boss Steve Clarke believes the return of Kieron Dyer is like signing a new player for the cash-strapped club

By Jonathan Clegg

While speculation rages over possible departures from West Ham this month, Hammers assistant boss Steve Clarke believes that the return of Kieron Dyer is like 'signing a new player' for the cash-strapped club.

Former England international Dyer made his comeback from 16 months out with a broken leg in last weekend's FA Cup third-round win over Barnsley and produced an impressive 20-minute cameo at Upton Park.

The 29-year-old almost made a dream return in only his third match since joining the Hammers in a £6m move from Newcastle, but he cracked a low shot narrowly wide shortly after coming on while another late effort clipped the crossbar.

The midfielder's arrival did provide a spark for the Hammers and assistant manager Clarke is confident that he will prove to be a key addition during the second half of the season.

"You can see when Kieron came on to the pitch he's got quality," Clarke said. "He made some good touches but he is nowhere near match fitness. We can work on that though and he'll be like a top-class new signing.

"He could have got a couple of goals and he will be a big addition to our squad."

Dyer had hoped to make his comeback last month but his return to action was delayed when he was struck down with a virus.

That marked the latest in a series of frustrating setbacks for the midfield ace, who has been sidelined since breaking his leg in two places during a Carling Cup match at Bristol Rovers in August 2007.

Clarke admits that it will take some time for Dyer to return to full fitness but has backed him to continue his rehabilitation with renewed enthusiasm after finally making a first-team appearance.

He said: "Obviously it's been difficult for Kieron. No player likes to be injured for that length of time but he's always tried to be positive. Coming back you always get little setbacks but we've always worked hard with him to try to keep him happy.

"The thinking was that he wasn't fully match-fit and we knew it would be a gamble putting him on the bench, but we hoped we'd be in a position to bring him on just to give him a lift and let him know that everyone was thinking about him. The reception from the crowd was fantastic."

The Hammers No2 added that the club's management team are already devising ways to make use of the versatile midfielder's attacking instincts - but warned that it will be some weeks before Dyer can be installed in the starting line-up.

"I'm not going to give any secrets away but when you've got a player like Kieron Dyer you can make many positions for him and many different systems," said Clarke.

"But we saw when he made two or three forward runs he struggled to get back so he's lacking condition - and that will take time.

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