ROBERT Green believes things can only get better for West Ham following their opening day defeat to Manchester City.

The Irons goalkeeper - the only Hammers player to draw any credit from manager Alan Curbishley - refused to blame injuries to captain Lucas Neill and summer signings Scott Parker and Julien Faubert for his side's lacklustre display.

Instead, the England international likened the East Enders' performance to driving a car with the handbrake on' and promised an improvement when Alan Curbishley's team head to Birmingham City on Saturday.

"To be honest, we'll have to go some to play worse than that this season," admitted the 27-year-old. "I think we can get better as a team.

"The peformance - particularly in the first half - was like driving a car with the handbrake on. At times it was painful.

"Man City made it hard for us, as you expect any team to do, but that was probably as easy a game as they could have hoped for - and that makes it just as disappointing."

Despite the absence of Neill, Parker and Faubert, Green insisted the Hammers should still have had enough to take care of Sven Goran Eriksson's side.

"We were missing quality players but we've got a quality squad," he said.

"We didn't perform and that's the bottom line. Some of their players will be thinking this Premier League lark will be easy."

Eriksson included six debutants in his starting eleven, with two more arriving from the substitutes' bench, and Green admitted the Irons knew relatively little about their opponents.

The former Norwich City star said the situation would be different when they take on the Blues at St Andrew's this weekend.

"It was slightly bizarre (against City)," said Green.

"This was an extension of pre-season, when you play against teams you don't normally play against and know a lot about.

"In that respect, it was maybe not as easy as next week when we'll be playing against 11 players we know more about and have played against before."

WEST Ham teenager Hogan Ephraim has joined Coca-Cola Championship side Queen's Park Rangers on a month-long loan.

The winger, who spent the whole of last season at Colchester United, made his debut for the West London side in Rangers' 2-2 draw at Bristol City on Saturday.