Saturday 18 January 2020

Allardyce taking care of players

Kevin Nolan is sidelined for West Ham
Kevin Nolan is sidelined for West Ham

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is easing his players back to match fitness in an attempt to avoid picking up any early-season injury concerns.

With only two Barclays Premier League games played so far, Allardyce is already missing captain Kevin Nolan and club-record signing Andy Carroll with shoulder and ankle injuries, respectively.

Defenders James Collins and Arsenal loanee Carl Jenkinson are both absent with hamstring problems while Matt Jarvis is missing and new signing Diafra Sakho - who opened his account for the Hammers in their Capital One Cup second-round defeat to Sheffield United - is struggling with tightness in his back.

All of that means Allardyce is low on numbers as he looks to add to the 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace last weekend when he welcomes Southampton to Upton Park on Saturday.

West Ham suffered a chronic injury situation over the turn of the year as the club became embroiled in a battle to escape the Barclays Premier League bottom three.

Expectations among the club's supporters and owners is that Allardyce replicates the top-half finish of two years ago, but the manager is already having to be tentative with his players.

"Our training is very limited at the moment," he said.

"We're nursing the lads through training to be available for the game on Saturday. It's getting rather too long, the list, but saying that, after last Saturday's performance - and Tuesday's too - we're looking pretty good as a team in the way we're playing.

"What we haven't done at home is turn the two good performances into results and that's a little concern, because we need to be more ruthless and finish teams off, as we did against Crystal Palace."

Goalkeeper Adrian is likely to return against Southampton after being rested for the cup tie.

Southampton are hoping to claim their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season after losing at Liverpool and drawing with West Brom.

A 2-0 Capital One Cup win over Millwall in midweek has raised confidence levels and Ronald Koeman is braced for a clash of styles at Upton Park.

"West Ham are an aggressive team and play in a physical way, different to our philosophy," Koeman said.

"It's always difficult to beat that type of team, and it will be the same on Saturday.

"Winning in the league is always important because it's the best way to gain confidence.

"You can talk and you can believe, but points bring in a good feeling.

"We lost to Liverpool and it wasn't a good game against West Brom."

Koeman kept changes to a minimum against Millwall and explained his thinking was to give his new-look team greater understanding of each other.

"We didn't make a lot of changes in the team because we are starting the season and we need to improve ourselves and get confidence," Koeman said.

"Saturday is totally different. It's the Premier League and West Ham away is different to Millwall away.

"You have to be prepared and we are prepared for Saturday."

Lloyd Isgrove is almost certain to miss the trip.

Koeman has revealed Isgrove is "not in a good physical way to play" after lasting only 30 minutes of the Lions tie.

PA Media

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