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West Ham skipper takes the penalty prize at Stoke

PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:33 18 December 2017

West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.

West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.

PA Wire/PA Images

Hammers captain Mark Noble is celebrating a Happy Christmas despite injury

West Ham United's Mark Noble scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.West Ham United's Mark Noble scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.

He may have been in and out of the team this season and he has certainly had his critics, but when West Ham were awarded a penalty at Stoke City on Saturday, there was only one person you would want to take it.

Skipper Mark Noble stepped up and easily guided the ball into the net, sending Jack Butland the wrong way.

“I have taken a few penalties, but I was a little bit nervous to be honest,” confessed the midfield man.

“I wanted us to get a good start, especially with them struggling a little and being under pressure.

West Ham United's Mark Noble walks off the pitch after picking up an injury during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.West Ham United's Mark Noble walks off the pitch after picking up an injury during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.

“An early goal is so important, and with us missing the last penalty, I needed to score.”

He did, but his match, in his 300th appearance for the club, did not last much longer as he was forced to hobble off with injury.

“I tweaked my hamstring during the Arsenal game as I hadn’t played in a few weeks and against Chelsea and Arsenal there was a lot of ground to cover,” he admitted.

“I came in on Thursday morning with a sore hamstring, but I thought I could get away with it. I got my penalty though, got a standing ovation and came off after half an hour,” laughed the delighted captain.

West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.

He will have undoubtedly wanted to stay on the pitch though as the Canning Town born West Ham fans then had to watch as the team spurned chance after chance with the score at 1-0.

“I was a nervous wreck,” he laughed, shaking his head. “I would much rather sit in a dark room and let me know the result!

“But I believed in the way we were defending and I thought of we get enough chances we would score again.”

They did, adding two more before the end, but in between Stoke had half chances, while West Ham kept missing.

West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates during the Premier League match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke.

“It took Marko quite a few chances,” he said. “He hit the post twice but he got one and I was so happy for him.

“I was really buzzing for ‘Diaf’ as well. He has sat there waiting for his chance and he loves scoring goals, so I was so happy for him.

“I honestly believe that we could have won by more, but are we happy with 3-0 away to Stoke? Of course we are, I am not going to get greedy,” he chuckled.

“I thought the whole squad did well and in particular the back five were excellent and that gave us the platform to go on and win it.

“Our defending has been magnificent and when you then look at ‘Arnie’ and Michail literally running themselves into the ground. We need that power and hunger.”

Noble will hopefully be back for the games against Newcastle United and Bournemouth over Christmas, but for now he is revelling in the team’s current form.

If we play like we have in the last few games, we will be all right,” he insisted. “I will make sure the boys don’t get complacent and I really believe we can push up the table.

“Thank God we are out of the bottom three and Happy Christmas,” he said as he made his way off to the warmth of the team coach.

And so say all of us.

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