Premier League: West Ham midfielder Mark Noble defends form of Kevin Nolan
West Ham midfielder Mark Noble has leapt to the defence of under-fire captain Kevin Nolan.
Last Updated: 04/12/13 3:35pm
Nolan, who scored 10 goals last term, has not found the net since the opening day of the season and has substituted to the sound of ironic cheers from Hammers fans in their last three matches.
The 31-year-old lasted just 58 minutes of Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, but Noble insists his midfielder partner still has an important role to play at Upton Park.
"Of course he has, he is our captain," stated Noble. "Kev is brilliant in the dressing room and he has been unbelievable for us. He is big enough and strong enough to handle all that sort of stuff, so I am sure he will be fine.
"He is the gaffer's man and he looks after the dressing room and all of the problems in there. You need someone like that.
"I do not think the gaffer has taken him off because of the way he was playing, he just wanted to change things."
West Ham have won just one of their last seven matches and could find themselves in the bottom three following Saturday's trip to Liverpool, where they haven't won since 1963.
Sam Allardyce's side will travel to Anfield without Ravel Morrison after he picked up fifth booking of the season against Palace, meaning he will serve a one-match ban.
However, Noble insisted: "He has not been any trouble all season.
"He has lost the game and he is frustrated, we all are. Emotions are high and if you take that away from him, you take a lot of his ability away.
"He got booked which means he misses the Liverpool game so that is going to be a miss. He is a young lad and he is still learning.
"I am sure he is going to get kicked a lot because of his ability. He has got to learn to deal with that if he wants to do the tricks and skills that he does."