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West Ham defender battling for contract for next season

16:06 12 February 2013

West Ham United's Emanuel Pogatetz (left) and Aston Villa's Charles N'Zogbia (right) battle for the ball

West Ham United's Emanuel Pogatetz (left) and Aston Villa's Charles N'Zogbia (right) battle for the ball

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Hammers’ Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz is keen to impress and earn himself a deal at West Ham for next season

West Ham new-boy Emanuel Pogatetz is determined to prove he is worth keeping at Upton Park when his four-month deal finishes at the end of the season despite his first start for the Hammers ending in a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa.

After a brief appearance as a late sub against Swansea City last week, the 30-year-old Austrian captain was chosen in a three-man central defensive partnership with James Tomkins and Winston Reid at Villa Park on Sunday.

But after being switched from centre back to left back as West Ham were forced to reshuffle after injury to Joey O’Brien, Pogatetz’s first start did not go as well as it might have.

“I think we were on top and we had a couple of good chances, a couple of good breaks, but we didn’t play the last pass very well,” explained the international defender.

“We kept them quiet at the other end, so it was bad to go behind from a penalty and then we went 2-0 down from a free-kick.

“It didn’t really go our way today and that is why I am so disappointed, because performance-wise, especially in the second half, we deserved more today than to go away losing.”

The former Middlesbrough player has stated that his main position is at centre back, but he was happy to fill in at full back on Sunday.

“It wasn’t a problem for me, I am happy to play in any position that the gaffer wants me to play,” he insisted.

“I think we adapted pretty well, but after 15 or 20 minutes we had to switch to four at the back, so we were in a different system and I wondered how we would adapt, but I think we did that all right.

“I just want to play and help the team as much as I can this season.”

Pogatetz played for his country in Wales on Wednesday, but he was delighted to return to the Premier League after a hiatus of three years during which time he has played for Spartak Moscow, Hannover and Wolfsburg.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t win, but on the other hand I am happy to be back in the Premier League and that I was able to start a game.

“I enjoyed myself out there, it was great to be back in the English rain and playing on a slippery pitch!”

Defeat at Villa means that the fans are once again looking over their shoulders at the chasing pack, but Pogatetz believes that the spirit of the squad will tell in their favour.

“For me, the most important thing is that this group is really together, I noticed that on the very first day I arrived,” he said. “I think that is the most important thing I have learned through my career, that people have to get on.

“That is why I am not worried about the last stage of the season. I think we have a really good group of lads, so I think we will get some more points and then everyone will be happy at the end.”

What would make Pogatetz happy is a contract at Upton Park for next season.

“It is brilliant to be here,” he said. “The pace of the game, the crowd and also the group of lads and how we go about things.

“I will try my best and hopefully I will be able to stay a little bit longer than just four months, we will see how it works at the end of the season.

“We have targets and hopefully I can achieve mine personally as well.”

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