Wednesday 18 October 2017

Euro 2016 boost for Ireland as Darren Randolph promised starting role in West Ham cup run

Slaven Bilic has promised Darren Randolph as starting place should West Ham make the FA Cup final. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Slaven Bilic has promised Darren Randolph as starting place should West Ham make the FA Cup final. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Andy Sims

Slaven Bilic has promised Darren Randolph he will play in the FA Cup final if West Ham get there.

Randolph is back-up goalkeeper to Spanish stopper Adrian at Upton Park but has been handed his chance in the cup competitions this season.

The 28-year-old Republic of Ireland international made a series of fine saves as West Ham overcame Liverpool after a replay, and will keep his place at Blackburn in the fifth round on Sunday.

And Hammers boss Bilic says Randolph will continue to be his cup keeper - hopefully all the way to Wembley. "Randolph will definitely play," he said. "Adrian is fine with that. He is our first keeper but Randolph deserves his chance.

"Every time we have put him in goal he has done brilliantly for us. He is doing the same thing he does when he is playing for Ireland. It is a big privilege to have two such great goalkeepers, and I decided that Randolph will be in goal for all the FA Cup games. He was very good at Anfield, and also at home when we beat Liverpool he made some great saves. He deserves to be in goal."

Bilic has made the FA Cup a priority this season, even claiming he would rather lift the trophy than finish in the top four of the Premier League Standing between the Hammers and a place in the quarter-finals are a Rovers side 18th in the Championship.

They have picked up just three wins in their last 12 games, one of which was a 3-0 victory over Oxford in the last round. Bilic, however, will not be taking them lightly, although he admits the Hammers should treat the tie as a genuine chance to reach the last eight.

"It will be a big test for us," he added. "They are not having a great season but they are solid, they don't concede many goals. No matter who you play, you are playing for the quarter-finals and that's where we want to be. The win against Liverpool will have more value if we progress in the cup.

"We have rested a few players this week and I think we are well prepared for the game. We'll take nothing for granted, it will be a very difficult game but we are a Premier League side, we are having a good season so far and I will be really disappointed if we don't go through."

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