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Fast start a must warns Curbishley

PUBLISHED: 14:57 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:32 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG ALAN Curbishley admits that West Ham must hit the ground running this season - or risk being dragged into a relegation scrap. Hammers boss Curbishley pulled off a miraculous escape from the drop in his first season at Upton Park and the

By JONATHAN CLEGG

ALAN Curbishley admits that West Ham must hit the ground running this season - or risk being dragged into a relegation scrap.

Hammers boss Curbishley pulled off a miraculous escape from the drop in his first season at Upton Park and then guided the club to a mid-table finish in the last campaign.

He is now planning an assault on the Premier League's top six - but insists dreams of European qualification could be replaced by another nightmare struggle against relegation if West Ham fail to perform in the opening weeks of the season.

"I think it's always important to get off to a good start. No matter what the fixtures give you, it is a vital time," said Curbishley.

"When I talk about starts, I tend to talk about eight games. I think it then settles down a bit and you see if you've had a decent start or not.

"If you have had a decent start, a win here and then a loss and win - it keeps you where you are.

"But if you've not had a good start and you need to pick up, you're always chasing it."

West Ham's prospects of hitting the ground running this season have been dealt a blow by a series of injury problems during pre-season.

Defenders George McCartney and Anton Ferdinand remains doubtful for the opening match against Wigan at Upton Park on Saturday, while Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer are definitely out.

Having seen his team hit by an unprecedented injury crisis last season, Curbishley is anxious to strengthen the squad with at least one new addition before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

He said: "We're looking to add [to the squad] and I think I need to strengthen it at the back a little bit because we've got one or two niggles there."

West Ham triallist Ben Thatcher will not be one of the new arrivals after Ipswich Town confirmed he is on the verge of a move to the Championship club.

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