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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Arsene Wenger's hidden gem

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By ESPN Staff

Hammers take a look at Ghana defender Pantsil

West Ham manager Alan Pardew will run the rule over Ghana's World Cup right-back John Pantsil on the club's pre-season tour of Sweden.

Pantsil, 25, has been given permission by his Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv to link up with West Ham, who fly out to Gothenburg tomorrow.

Pardew was impressed with his performances at the World Cup - but he is also anxious to sign players with the right character.

And West Ham's week-long tour gives Pardew the opportunity to see how Pantsil would fit in with what he is building at Upton Park before any potential transfer is finalised.

It also gives Pantsil the opportunity to gain an insight into Pardew's methods - and learn he will need a sharp tongue to become a successful part of the Hammers squad.

West Ham centre-back Anton Ferdinand warned: 'We welcome all the new signings with open arms and they get into the banter straight away.

'If you don't then you will get mullered - that is the way it is at West Ham.

'But all our news signings have fitted in really well. As long as you warn them before that happens, then they will be alright.'

Pantsil is not officially on trial and he is unlikely to feature in any of West Ham's three games in Sweden.

Pantsil courted controversy at the World Cup by brandishing an Israel flag as he celebrated Ghana's goals in their 2-0 win over the Czech Republic.

The Ghanaian Football Association issued an apology after the incident, insisting neither they nor Pantsil were taking sides in the Middle East conflict.

West Ham were left without a specialist right-back after Lionel Scaloni's loan deal expired and Pardew then missed out on signing England full-back Luke Young from Charlton.

But he has snapped up highly-rated Preston right-back Tyrone Mears for £1million and utility defender Jonathan Spector from Manchester United.

For the third time this summer Pardew has strongly denied speculation that one of his strikers is on his way out of Upton Park.

First it was Marlon Harewood, who was reportedly a £7.5million target for Portsmouth. Then following the signing of Carlton Cole from Chelsea it was Bobby Zamora.

Today, Pardew insisted there is no truth in the story linking striker Dean Ashton with a £10million move to Newcastle.

Ashton only joined the Hammers from Norwich in January and he made a quick impression at Upton Park and went on to score in the FA Cup final.

Rumours have persisted that Ashton has failed to settle at Upton Park - but Pardew insists his £7.5million record signing is going nowhere.

'There is no truth in it whatsoever,' Pardew told the London Evening Standard.

'Dean has settled in well at the club and has just bought a house. I can guarantee he will be going nowhere.'

Ferdinand is back in full training after undergoing a double hernia operation and on course to play in Sweden this week.

The operation meant Ferdinand had to suffer the disappointing of turning down the chance to join England's World Cup standby list.

But with the new season and the start of a UEFA Cup campaign just weeks away, Ferdinand now believes it was for the best anyway.

'I was a bit upset but I now think it was for the best. If I had delayed it I would still be recovering from it now and that would have made it hard to start the season for me,' said Ferdinand, who was at the opening of the first UK Nike Grind Football pitch in Stockwell, London.

'We have a UEFA Cup first round match in the opening month of the season and it has always been my dream to play in Europe. So looking back it was a blessing in disguise.'