Friday 19 January 2018

Allardyce: Tomkins will carry on

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, pictured, was unhappy with a Robin van Persie challenge in Sunday's draw with Manchester United
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, pictured, was unhappy with a Robin van Persie challenge in Sunday's draw with Manchester United

Sam Allardyce will field James Tomkins at Southampton on Wednesday despite the defender breaking his nose against Manchester United, with the West Ham boss claiming his player was also "taken out" in a separate incident with Robin van Persie.

The Manchester United striker caught Tomkins with a stray arm in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Upton Park, after which Allardyce labelled Louis van Gaal's side as ''long-ball United''.

Despite Van Persie avoiding punishment from referee Mark Clattenburg for catching Tomkins with his elbow, Allardyce called the incident a ''naughty'' challenge - even though Tomkins himself revealed the break came in a separate incident with Marouane Fellaini.

But it will not stop him featuring against Southampton due to West Ham's ongoing defensive injury situation as, with b oth James Collins and Winston Reid missing with hamstring problems, Allardyce expects Tomkins to once again partner stand-in Cheikhou Kouyate at St Mary's.

"He broke his nose but it's not serious enough to keep him out," Allardyce said.

"From a challenge point of view I thought it was pretty naughty. He (Van Persie) had a look to see where the defender was and then took him out basically.

"The assistant referee gave a foul but he didn't think it was more serious. Tomkins should be fit to play tomorrow night which is the most important thing for us."

Tomkins said after the game against United that it was an innocent challenge from substitute Fellaini which actually did the damage to his nose - although he also questioned Van Persie's motives.

"The nose is a bit swollen," he told national newspapers.

"Fellaini was the second time in the match when I broke it. He has always got that about him when he goes up with his hands a lot," Tomkins said.

"It is tough to say he does it deliberately, but with the Van Persie one, I think he had a look at me first and then he has gone for me. I think that was more malicious than the other one, even though I came out worse the second time."

Neither Collins nor Reid will be fit in time for the trip to the south coast, with Kouyate stepping in well against United, scoring the opening goal and showing he is more than an able deputy.

But Allardyce may be able to welcome back club-record signing Andy Carroll - even though that news has been tainted by a potential foot injury to captain Kevin Nolan.

With a number of key players still absent, Allardyce is pleased with the momentum garnered from the draw with Van Gaal's side a nd he stood by the long-ball claims he made in the post-match press conference following Daley Blind's last-gasp leveller for the visitors.

Allardyce said: "The media love a bit of a tale, something to write about. It (United's long-ball tactic) was a fact and everyone loves facts.

"On Sunday it was Man United playing direct football to try and overcome a defeat and it paid off for them. That's how they got back into the game and sadly for us there wasn't time for us to react.

"We have to pick up from where we left off against United. They gave everything they possibly had and we want to maintain that level in every game for the rest of the season.

"So Wednesday night is all about our attitude and determination. We're going to need to push ourselves in order to win. We had a bit of a lull in our performances recently but to see us back to near our best was a big boost. We don't want our season to fade away."

Allardyce also revealed he is hopeful of signing former Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra after confirming the France international is training with the Hammers.

Diarra, 29, has been without a club since leaving Lokomotiv Moscow in August but is not too far away from match fitness and could be turning out for West Ham inside a fortnight if the expected deal is completed in the coming days.

"He is training with us," Allardyce said.

"I'm not so sure whether we have finalised a deal yet but he is doing a little bit of training with us. The deal is very close to being finalised and on the basis of where we are with our squad and the injuries, once we have him fit he will be a very good addition based on his previous record as a footballer."

Diarra's spell in Moscow ended acrimoniously after reports he refused to train following a bust-up with manager Leonid Kuckuk but, despite not playing in almost nine months, Allardyce believes the former Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth man could soon be part of his first-team squad at Upton Park.

"He won't be in any good shape in terms of being on the bench on Wednesday or on the bench on Saturday against West Brom," said Allardyce.

"But I certainly hope that, with a good few days' training with the lads, he will be close in seven to 10 days if he finally signs the contract."

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