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Jermain Defoe accepts he is not likely to be afforded a warm greeting from the travelling West Ham fans at The Lane on Sunday.

Jermain Defoe accepts he is not likely to be afforded a warm greeting from the travelling West Ham fans at The Lane on Sunday.

The striker departed Upton Park in the direction of N17 in the late-January of 2004 to make his return to Premiership football six months after West Ham's fall from the top flight.

"I think it is fair to say that!" said Jermain to the question of which of our line-up will be least well received by the south west corner of the stadium when the teams are read out. "I get a bit of stick when I play Charlton, but I didn't actually play in the first team there. It will be a little different against West Ham because I came through the system.

"We are at home though and I will be getting more cheers than boos. It makes you more hungry to do well though, if I am playing and hear boos, it makes you even more fired up to play well and score goals. I will get some stick, but I will be ready for the game."

The principal brickbat thrown in his direction is the fact that he submitted a transfer request in the wake of West Ham's relegation at the end of the 2002-03 season. The revelation caused quite a storm at the time, but Jermain insists the course of action was not instigated by himself.

I was young and feeling emotional after relegation

"People talked about it a lot but nobody really knows what happened. When you are young and your team gets relegated it is a shock. Then when you've got lots of different advice from people telling you to do things and you don't really understand, you often just do what they say because all you want to do is just play football.

"I still stayed at the club for six months and it wasn't a case of being desperate to go. I thought when the club got relegated that the nucleus of the squad was going to be kept together - Fredi Kanoute, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson - to help the club get back up. It was difficult when they were all sold and I then felt had to leave."

The teams resume Premiership combat at 1pm on Sunday and Jermain is looking forward to the experience against a team he suspects is ticking along nicely on their return to the highest level.

"Seriously, I can't wait - I've been talking about it all week. Hopefully we can win the game and I get back on the scoresheet.

"West Ham are now back in the Premiership and are still a great club. They have started again with young players and are playing well - plus they have Teddy who is scoring goals for them. It is looking good for them and it will be a great game on Sunday, not easy because it is a London derby, but if we play like we've been playing I think we can win."