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Big Sam: Next few games to define Hammers' season


West Ham United's manager Sam Allardyce

West Ham United's manager Sam Allardyce

West Ham United's manager Sam Allardyce

SAM Allardyce believes the Irons are heading into a period which will define their campaign.

Speaking ahead of tonight's Premier League clash with West Brom at the Hawthorns, he said: "We have a massive few weeks and months ahead of us and it will be a big test.

"This week we have had nine points on offer - we have got three of them already, so it is a huge week for us."

Allardyce added: "West Brom have only won one home (league) game this season, so their fans are starved of victory at the moment and we have got to pray on what might be a little lack of confidence.

"If we can keep the ball and move it around like we did on Saturday, then we might be able to make the West Brom fans a little nervous."

Meanwhile, Allardyce is cautiously optimistic Diafra Sakho can recover from his back injury to feature at Swansea on Sunday.

Sakho had netted seven goals in as many games before the international break, which helped the Irons climb into the top six of the Premier League. However, the 24-year-old summer signing from Metz has not featured since returning from Senegal's recent Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, with reports suggesting poor physiotherapy treatment when away contributing to a minor back problem escalating.

While Allardyce must again do without the forward at West Brom to night, he is cautiously optimistic Sakho can soon be fully match fit.

"I cannot medically go into anything from a legal point of view other than the injury occurred not by playing or training," said Allardyce, who is considering the possibility of sending members of the club's medical staff out to January's African Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea. "I am not legally qualified to make a comment further than he did not get injured while he was training or playing, so I can't expand on that."

Ecuador forward Enner Valencia is back in the squad for the trip to The Hawthorns.

Allardyce accepts he will not have a bumper transfer kitty with which to bolster the squad in the January transfer window should any more injuries strike down key men.