Trio return to boost Hammers
Published 18/04/2014 | 17:17
West Ham will be boosted by the return of influential trio Kevin Nolan, James Collins and Joey O'Brien for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.
O'Brien is back after a dislocated shoulder, while Hammers boss Sam Allardyce can call on midfielder Nolan, fit again after hamstring trouble, and defender Collins (calf).
The Hammers have lost their last two games following defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal.
Allardyce believes Palace boss Tony Pulis' homespun experience puts him squarely in the running for the Premier League Manager of the Year award.
Allardyce hailed Pulis' unfashionable background and approach, that has dragged the Eagles to likely Premier League safety.
On Saturday, Allardyce is keen to spoil Pulis' party after the visitors reached the highly-coveted 40-point mark with their superlative midweek win at Everton.
"I think that it says a lot for the experienced British manager," Allardyce told West Ham's official website, of Pulis' Palace transformation.
"It tells you that while a lot of foreign coaches have been selected by other clubs, there's enough quality and experience on your doorstep to do the job in this very difficult league.
"I think that he has proven beyond any question of a doubt his qualities as a manager.
"Contrary to what anyone says, his team does not play like his Stoke team did.
"There are some similarities, but he has a bunch of players who are different to the ones he had at Stoke and he gets the best out of them.
"That's all you can do as a manager, work with the tools you've got and get the best out of them.
"Certainly he's doing that at the moment."
Allardyce said he hopes the former Stoke boss will not suffer for not managing at the top end of the league when it comes to the awards season.
More pressing for the Hammers boss is the chance to ruin Pulis' feel-good factor at Palace, and send his own side up to the prized 40-point supposed safety mark this weekend too.
"It depends really," said Allardyce, musing on Pulis' chances of being crowned Manager of the Year.
"I think that fashionably it'll be somebody at the top, but we'll have to wait and see.
"What I want to do is make Tony very disappointed on Saturday. They've overtaken us in the league, they've got 40 points and we want to make sure by the end of the game on Saturday that we've got 40 points as well.
"Then we can really start our planning for next year.
"He's done a great job and he should get the credit he deserves, but we'll be all out to beat Crystal Palace on Saturday.
"It's another local derby and one that we've got to try and win for everybody, including our fans of course."
However, such recognition is not overly-important to Pulis.
The Welshman has overseen a remarkable transformation since coming in as Ian Holloway's successor in November.
Palace had just seven points to their name and looked relegation certainties yet now, five months on, they are within reach of a top-10 finish.
Wednesday's 3-2 shock win at Everton moved them to 40 points and almost certain safety, leading to growing calls for Pulis to be named Manager of the Year.
"That's for other people to decide," the Palace boss said when asked about it. "It doesn't make any difference [to me].
"Accolades come and go - I think the most important thing is that you enjoy your job, that you take and glean what you need to out of the job you are doing.
"I enjoy being a manager, I enjoy coaching. I don't like being in rooms, I'd rather be out there on the training field.
"I think if I could do that every day for the next 10 to 15 years, I'd be absolutely delighted. I won't but I would enjoy it."
On Saturday's trip to Upton Park, Pulis added: "We know it is going to be a tough game.
"I've got tremendous respect for Sam and for West Ham United Football Club, a fabulous football club with great tradition.
"I love going to Upton Park. The fans are very, very close to the pitch, there is always a great atmosphere there so it is a tough game for us."
Marouane Chamakh, Joel Ward and Yannick Bolasie face late fitness tests for Palace.