Spector issues UEFA Cup vow
Jonathan Spector is convinced that West Ham are still on course to qualify for European football next season
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Jonathan Spector is convinced that West Ham are still on course to qualify for European football next season despite the club's disappointing defeat at Bolton.
The Hammers entered last weekend's clash at the Reebok Stadium with the Premier League's longest unbeaten away record, but slipped to a first defeat in eight games on the road following a meltdown in the opening 10 minutes.
The result dropped West Ham to ninth place in the table and saw the club slip further behind Everton in the race for sixth spot and a possible UEFA Cup berth.
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But fit-again defender Spector believes the Hammers can kickstart their bid for European football - starting with Sunday's match against Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground.
He said: "We're not ruling Europe out, even though we lost.
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"We were hoping for seventh [place] before the game. We've been on a fantastic run of wins and a few draws and we certainly believe we can get back on track.
"We just see this as a minor setback and we're ready to go again."
Spector finally made his return to Premier League action at Bolton following a long-term absence through injury.
The versatile defender was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up but his impressive display filling in for suspended captain Lucas Neill was one of the few highlights for Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola.
The US international had been sidelined for 10 months after suffering a hip injury last summer, but he admitted to mixed emotions after making his comeback in a losing effort.
"On a personal level it was good to be back because it was my first game in a long while," Spector said.
"But, more importantly, the team was very disappointed with the result.
"We went 2-0 down very early on and gave ourselves a mountain to climb and made it really difficult for ourselves.
"I think it was difficult from then on but we fought back and were on top for the majority of the game but just weren't able to get it back.
"I couldn't be happier to get my first start under my belt but it's more important to be winning the game.
"We didn't do that so it's a little bit of a bittersweet moment for me.