We’re somewhat used to the position we currently we find ourselves in, yet we continue to hold our heads up high and believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Well, that’s the outlook I have as we head in to a somewhat insignificant FA Cup 3rd Round trip to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. With two victories from our last 12 outings in all competitions and our league position looking more and more precarious, you can be forgiven for not worrying too much about a run in the FA Cup this season.
It’s no secret that Premier League survival should be our number one priority at the moment, but that still doesn’t mean to say we are able to compete in both competitions. And if you add the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City next week, we still have a fairly slim chance of success this season.
But it’s obvious that anyone would swap a good cup run, or even a Wembley final, for a place in the Premier League next season. It’s absolutely imperative that we are a top-flight team come August.
So an FA Cup run this year looks extremely unlikely, particular when you consider how thin our first-team squad has become due to injuries.
Sam Allardyce confirmed in his press conference this morning that he has just 14 fully fit first-team players and that the entire U21 team will be promoted for the trip to the City ground with an opportunity to prove themselves to him.
So we can expect a fairly youthful line-up on Sunday morning, which will give us all a great chance to assess the talent the club currently has waiting in the first-team’s wings. We’ve already seen a lot of Danny Potts under Allardyce, while we’ve caught a glimpse of the impressive Pelly Ruddock and Leo Chambers in the early rounds of the Capital One Cup, so the news they’ll be playing isn’t such a bad thing at all.
Forest are currently unbeaten in seven Championship outings and sit 5th in the second-tier, so they’re set to provide a tough test for Allardyce and his make-shift Hammers side.
Verdict: A cup run isn’t priority, but we should still have enough to progress.
David Vaughan and Djamal Abdoun both face late fitness tests for the hosts.
Darius Henderson returns from a three-match suspension, while Jamie Paterson is expected to remain in the start after impressing in their 1-1 draw with Reading last time out.
West Ham United
Andy Carroll’s return to full training is a big boost to Sam Allardyce but he is not yet ready to be called upon, although Stewart Downing should return to the starting line-up after returning from injury in the 2-1 New Year’s loss to Fulham.
Allardyce has admitted that a number of U21 players will have a chance to impress at the City Ground, with Leo Chambers, Danny Potts and Pelly Ruddock all expected to start.
Mark Noble, Winston Reid, James Tomkins and Ricardo Vaz Te are all sidelined with injury, while captain Kevin Nolan starts a four-match suspension following his red card at Craven Cottage on Wednesday.
Words from the Managers:
Sam Allardyce, West Ham manager…
“At the moment, my senior squad comprises of about 14 fit players, so that’s why all the U21s will be promoted up into the squad of 25 to face these next group of fixtures.
“Everyone says ‘When are you going to start playing your youngsters?’ so we’re going to start playing them. If we don’t win, they’ll say ‘He’s undermining the FA Cup,’ so here I am in a no-win situation.
“The team we send out should really look forward to the game because it’s one for them to prove an awful lot of what they can do in the future.”
Last 10 Meetings:
Match in Numbers:
1 – Forest have managed just win in all competitions agains the Hammers in their last 10 meetings.
4 – And West Ham have won the last four encounters between the two sides.
250 – If he plays, Carlton Cole will make his 250th first-team appearance for West Ham.
3 – Forest have not won any of their last three FA Cup 3rd Round games at the City Ground.
2 – The Hammers have scored at least two goals in their last four matches against Nottingham Forest.
Head-to-Head (all competitions):
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