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Life is looking up for Matt

PUBLISHED: 15:52 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 11:07 13 July 2010

by BEN WELCH IRONS centre half Matthew Upson s excellent recent form has earned him a call-up to Fabio Capello s first England squad. But the defender s celebrations were tempered by his club s defeat to Wigan on Saturday on a quagmire of a pitch. Upson

by BEN WELCH

IRONS centre half Matthew Upson's excellent recent form has earned him a call-up to Fabio Capello's first England squad.

But the defender's celebrations were tempered by his club's defeat to Wigan on Saturday on a quagmire of a pitch.

Upson said of his inclusion in the squad, which took on Switzerland last night (Wednesday): "I'm really pleased. I've worked very hard to get to where I am, so it's nice to be back in the squad.

"It's a great achievement for me, so I'm really pleased.

"My health has been good. I'm fitter and hungrier than I've ever been. I'm focused on what I want to do and I'm really enjoying my football at West Ham."

But the 28-year-old, who faces former club Birmingham City at Upton Park this Saturday, was less pleased about Saturday's result.

"We tried to play a little bit too much, whereas on that pitch we needed to hit balls into the channels and a bit longer," he explained.

"It's difficult to play on. To pass it in the midfield was tough, but you have to adapt to that and I don't think we adapted well enough."

Robert Green, who unlike Upson, missed out on Capello's squad, was philosophical in the face of defeat.

He said: "It was difficult circumstances for everybody. They adapted to the conditions better.

"It's suited for them. They've got big players in their team and it suited their set pieces well. We gave away too many free-kicks and it cost us eventually.

"It's difficult when you've got footballers in your team who are not adept at playing in those sorts of conditions," said the former Norwich City custodian.

"It's disappointing because we were looking at catching the people above us and we didn't put in a good performance."

In a scrappy encounter at the JJB Stadium, both teams struggled to retain possession or exert any kind of pressure, with the pitch reducing the game to a scrap.

The home side relied on sporadic aerial balls to Emile Heskey and Marlon King, as the Hammers tried to play their football to no avail.

A dull first half bereft of any quality, ended with a goal for the hosts.

Ryan Taylor, so often the Latics' architect in chief with his whipped-in dead-ball deliveries, struck a powerful ball into the area for an unmarked Kevin Kilbane to loop an angled header over a stranded Green for the game's decisive goal.

Both defences dominated as goal scoring chances failed to materialise, until the 71st minute when Luis Valencia unleashed a fierce low drive that beat Green, before rebounding into his arms off both posts.

Craig Bellamy was introduced by Alan Curbishley and wasted West Ham's best chance when he blazed over from a Freddie Ljungberg knock down.

After their dramatic win over Liverpool, the Hammers were understandably deflated after this poor defeat and although the players didn't want to make excuses, there was no denying the pitch played its part.


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