Leading by example

Kevin Nolan, the West Ham captain, already has five EPL goals this season after scoring the only goal of the game on his first return to St. James’ Park to consign his former team, Newcastle, to defeat recently.

West Ham have looked very much at home back in the English Premier League and Kevin Nolan has been key to their impressive start to the season.

The Hammers skipper made a habit of popping up with goals from midfield during his time at Bolton and Newcastle and he has been a regular on the score-sheet since moving to Upton Park.

Nolan scored 13 goals in his first season for the London club following his surprise move from Newcastle as the Irons secured promotion back to the EPL.

And the 30-year-old already has five EPL goals this season after scoring the only goal of the game on his first return to St. James’ Park to consign Newcastle to defeat recently.

It was also a sweet return to St. James’ Park for ex-Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce, who knows all about midfielder Nolan’s qualities having managed him at Bolton.

That victory took the Hammers up to sixth in the table and manager Sam Allardyce paid tribute to Nolan after the game.

Allardyce said: “Of course it’s our captain, who is our leading goal-scorer, who has got us the three points. His instincts in the box are there for all to see. It’s five goals he has got in 11 games now in the Premier League — it should be six because he had one chalked off (against Manchester City) that he shouldn’t have done — and for a midfield player to be totalling up that sort of goal tally is fantastic from our point of view.”

Despite his impressive form, Nolan was once again overlooked by England manager Roy Hodgson for the friendly against Sweden in Stockholm.

And the attack-minded midfielder is at a loss to explain why his chance has not come at international level.

“It does hurt I haven’t got one I must admit and it does hurt a bit but it is something I have got to live with and I’m a big boy,” he said.

“I don’t know what more I can do to be quite honest, I’ve scored goals consistently for a number of years, I dropped down a division but consistently scored goals down there. I think I have at least deserved a call-up and a chance to prove myself at that level.”

Nolan’s former Newcastle team-mate Joey Barton is also baffled by the midfielder’s absence in the England squad.

Everton midfielder Leon Osman was called-up to represent the Three Lions in Stockholm for the first time at the age of 31.

Barton, currently on loan at Marseille, was pleased to see Osman get his chance but he believes Nolan is long overdue an international call-up.

He tweeted: “Good to see Leon Osman get a call-up, about time. My brain is asking why no Kevin Nolan? Surely, he warrants a call-up more than most. On Premier League goals alone, consistently for the last eight years, he deserves at least a call up.”

Barton added: “Osman, good player in the last few years. But he’s 32 and isn’t gonna improve an average side. If they’re giving out charity caps… All am saying is, Nolan should of… had a call up years ago.”

Whether Nolan will ever get the opportunity to pull on an England shirt remains to be seen, but for the time being his aim is to help guide the Hammers into Europe.

Nolan said: “What we’re trying to do at West Ham is what we tried to do at Newcastle. When we came up it was about getting them back to where they belonged and then eventually into Europe. That’s what I feel that West Ham should do with the support we’ve got and the backing from the boardroom.”

Eyebrows were raised when Nolan dropped out of the EPL to join West Ham, but he appears to have been given a new lease of life in the capital.

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