Tomkins will welcome his old team to Selhurst Park as the Hammers face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

West Ham United captain Mark Noble has told the Mirror that it will feel strange playing against long-time teammate James Tomkins on Saturday, but admitted he understands why the defender felt he had to leave the Hammers.

Tomkins left the Irons this summer in favour of a move to Crystal Palace for a fee of around £10 million, bringing to an end a 19-year association with the East London club.

The 27-year-old made his senior debut for West Ham in 2008 and went on to play 243 times in all competitions, and was a teammate of midfielder Noble for the entirety of his time at Upton Park.

The pair are firm friends off the field as well as having been longstanding teammates on it, and Noble has admitted that it will be strange to line up against him rather than in front of him this weekend.

The 29-year-old captain told the Mirror: “It will feel very strange on Saturday having played alongside James for so many years. I say playing, but looking after him for so many years! I got him out of a number of situations on the pitch but I would like to put him in trouble on Saturday!”

Noble went on to stress that although it was a disappointment to see Tomkins move on, he understands why the defender felt that he had to make the move, with the centre-back no longer guaranteed a regular place in the starting XI.

He added: “It is a shame he had to move on but that is football and it is very common for things to happen like that. He is 27 and wanted to play regular first-team football. It is a big loss for us because it is not just how good he is on the pitch, but the impact he has around the training ground. We have to move on now and good luck to him.

“He lives down the same road as me so we see each other a lot. But when we are on the pitch the main focus for me is getting the three points. He is a great lad and we get on so well. But you have to accept these things and we need to get the win on Saturday.”

Noble is right to end on the note of needing a win. West Ham have won just one of their first seven Premier League games, losing five of the other six, and are currently mired in the relegation zone.

Noble and his teammates will have to find a way past their old pal on Saturday if they are to arrest the slide and finally kickstart their campaign.

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