Tuesday 21 October 2014

Jaaskelainen vows to fight for first-team place as he signs new deal with Hammers

Nick Purewal

Published 04/06/2014 | 14:07

Jussi Jaaskelainen joined West Ham in 2012
Jussi Jaaskelainen joined West Ham in 2012

JUSSI JAASKELAINEN will renew his battle with Adrian for West Ham's starting goalkeeper berth next term after signing a new one-year deal with the Hammers.

The Finland stopper lost his outright first-choice status to Spanish signing Adrian as the Hammers dug their way out of a potential relegation battle to finish 13th in the Barclays Premier League.

Manager Sam Allardyce brought Jaaskelainen to the Premier League with Bolton in 1997, remaining loyal to the 39-year-old ever since.

Allardyce captured Adrian from Real Betis last summer though, with the 27-year-old often dislodging Jaaskelainen in his first Upton Park campaign.

Jaaskelainen could have sought a nailed-on starting role elsewhere, but decided instead to commit to a third season with the Hammers.

"I'm delighted to sign for another season and I'm really looking forward to it," said the 56-cap Finland international.

"Hopefully I can put in a proper challenge to get a starting place again. Physically, I feel good now and I felt good last season so I hope I can carry on from there and play football.

"You never know what is going to happen next season, but the only thing in my mind is to get myself ready to play.

"I am looking forward so that when that next chance comes, I will be in the right shape and right frame of mind to take it.

"That's all I'm thinking about now. Obviously we all know that, whoever is in the squad, we all want to fight for that starting place, so let's see. We're all looking forward to next season.

"I want to try my best and I'm going to give it a proper go to play well, so the first thing I have to do is look after myself to make sure I'm in good shape and a good frame of mind."

West Ham bosses have retained Allardyce as manager despite a clear directive for more free-flowing attacking football next season.

Former Tottenham and England striker Teddy Sheringham has joined the club as attack coach, and Allardyce is aiming to drive the Hammers to a more balance campaign next term.

Jaaskelainen knows it will be vital for West Ham to secure early victories to improve on this season's effort.

"It was a bit disappointing as in the early part things didn't really work out because we didn't really score enough goals and then we got injury problems," he said.

"If you look at it, we finished 13th, having had a difficult season, so it's not the end of the world. We have to make sure we're ready for this coming season.

"In our first season back in the Premier League, we started well, but this time we didn't get those points on the board early on and that's what created the pressure and all the injuries just made it worse.

"We have to make sure we're ready for this coming season so we can start well."

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