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Trending: Crowd incident mars Everton game

By ESPN Staff

Reo-Coker: Back problem cause of poor form

West Ham skipper Nigel Reo-Coker has hit back at the critics who have questioned his performances this season.

The 22-year-old midfielder has struggled to reach the heights he scaled last term, when he was inspirational at the heart of the Hammers midfield and came close to being called into England's World Cup squad.

But Reo-Coker insisted he was happy with his displays in the current campaign - and blamed any subdued showings on a troublesome back injury.

'There are things that have happened that people are not aware of,' he said.

'Because of the back injury, I missed most of pre-season, and I had to come back earlier than I should have.

'I just had to get on with it. I have always been satisfied with my performances, and there are situations people do not know about.

'Fortunately, the back problem is solved now.'

Both Manchester United and Arsenal were rumoured to have bid for Reo-Coker at the end of August, but the England Under-21 international ducked questions about his Upton Park future.

But he took the opportunity to defend Argentina duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, who have shown little of their talent since arriving at Upton Park in August.

Reo-Coker would like to see the pair given longer to settle into English football and English life.

He continued: 'I hope they are still at West Ham after January. They are very talented and there is a lot more to come from them.

'It might take a whole season for them to settle in. People do not realise how much of a big change it is for them.

'It is a culture shock, because European football is completely different from South American football, so it has been very hard for them.

'They are only 22, but they work hard in training, and they are trying to adapt.

'The players have always been very supportive, and there is a lot of banter going on. Mascherano's English is coming along well.'