Kevin Nolan has warned his West Ham team-mates to prepare for a scrap if they are to secure promotion back to the English Premier League.West Ham were relegated after finishing bottom last season, ending a six-year stay in the top flight.
The demotion saw Avram Grant sacked following just one campaign in charge, replaced by former Bolton and Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce.
One of Allardyce’s first actions was to recruit Nolan, his former captain at Bolton, to spearhead the promotion charge from the Championship.
Nolan was relegated from the Premier League with Newcastle in 2008/09, but led the Magpies to an instant return as second-tier champions the following the season.
And the 29-year-old knows exactly what it takes to conquer the physical challenge of the Championship, starting with the visit of Cardiff to Upton Park on Sunday.
“You’ve got to find out who is going to be ready for the fight, because it’s going to be a fight,” Nolan said.
“It’s going to be backs against the wall at times with people lumping balls into our box.”
“Everybody has got to raise their game because we are West Ham. We’ve got to be ready for that.”
“We’ve got to make sure we are physically and mentally strong so that when it comes to Cardiff we are ready and we can hit the ground running.”
Nolan has been encouraged by the spirit his new colleagues have shown as they prepare for the season ahead.
“Sometimes when you join a club, especially a relegated side, there’s a bit of a split in the camp and something has gone wrong,” he said.
“But here the lads are fantastic and there is a great team spirit.”
“Hopefully now we can add to that. We can do a few more things during the season and we can get back to where we belong – the Premier League – because that’s the goal.”