Gabby: ‘Stop Matt and Hammers will win’

WEST HAM defender Danny Gabbidon believes that victory in tonight’s Carling Cup clash with Stoke City can kickstart their dismal Premier League season.

But the 31-year-old Wales international believes the secret behind making the quarter-finals of the competition will be stopping former Hammer Matty Etherington.

The pair stood side by side for West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, now they find themselves going head-to-head in another important cup tie.

“Matt has always done well, even when he was here,” said Gabbidon.

“I enjoyed playing with him especially in my first season when we did well, got to the FA Cup Final and qualified for Europe.

“I was a little bit sad to see him go, as left-footed wingers are a rare commodity, but the move to Stoke has been good for him.”

Etherington’s off the field problems were more influential in his move away from Upton Park, than his on-field play.

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A gambling addiction which he now talks about frankly, meant a fresh start was a neccesity and Stoke boss Tony Pulis paid �2million to take him to the Britannia Stadium in January 2009 – he hasn’t looked back since.

“He is a good player and we will have to be careful,” said Gabbidon, who may have to fill in for injured captain Matty Upson tonight.

“It makes it easier when you know the player you are coming up against. But, that said, he will know what we are capable of as well and try to take advantage.”

After Saturday’s dire defeat against Newcastle, West Ham remain rooted to the foot of the table, but the Welshman believes that a good cup run can give everyone a boost.

“It would be nice to have another cup run and give the fans something to cheer about,” he said.

“A few big teams have been knocked out of the Carling Cup so you never know what could happen if we were to win.

“If we can get past Stoke and get a favourable draw, we could have a good chance.

“A good cup run builds confidence and can kick-start the league form.

“It will give us the right platform for the Arsenal game on Saturday as well.”

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7.45pm and cut-price tickets will still be available at the turnstiles.