West Ham United skipper Mark Noble has appealed for unity for fans after incidents during their last home game against Burnley.
The midfielder confronted a disgruntled pitch-invading Hammers fan during the 3-0 defeat at the London Stadium early this month.
Saturday’s Premier League fixture with fellow strugglers Southampton will be their first since the Clarets reverse, after which 20 supporters were handed life bans by the club.
In an open letter published on the club’s website, the 30-year-old stated the need for the fans to get behind the team although a further protest has been planned outside the ground before Saturday’s match.
Noble stated: “We need you all, full-stop, and we cannot perform to our best and win the matches we need to win without you. When you are on song, there really are no supporters better at inspiring their team than West Ham supporters.”
“I can understand the frustrations some of you are feeling. This season has not gone how we’d all hoped it would, but I would ask you to channel your passion to get behind the team, help us get through the season with our Premier League status intact, and we can sit down and reassess things in the summer.
“We need the London Stadium to be buzzing for our five remaining home games, so please unite behind the lads and give us the best possible chance to deliver the results we need to stay up.”
A further repeat of the Burnley scenes could result in further Football Association punishment including the Hammers being forced to play matches behind closed doors.