Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Halting The Pilgrims' Progress

Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions than ruined by too confident a security.
John Bunyan

Alan Curbishley is looking ahead to tonight's tie against Plymouth and is sticking by his early season pledge to take the Carling Cup as seriously as possible. The West Ham manager sent out an experienced side in the previous round, which saw Bristol Rovers beaten 2-1 thanks to two Craig Bellamy strikes. Although the loss of Kieron Dyer to a broken leg that night meant victory came at a high cost, Curbishley made it clear he would continue to use a majority of first-choice players in a competition he believes his side can win.

"I did say after the Bristol Rovers game how disappointed I was after what happened to Kieron but we are in these competitions and we have got to attack them," said Curbishley. "Every now and then a team from outside the top four gets to the final so if you are a team like that then that is what you should be looking to do. We have injuries here but we have got enough to attack it." Although eager for the Hammers to continue to progress in the Carling Cup, Curbishley is anticipating a tricky tie against the Pilgrims at Upton Park. "I know Ian quite well. He is someone who can lift a club when he goes in there. He did a terrific job at QPR and Plymouth have the opportunity to be a big club with their fan base. They always threaten to get in and around those play-off places and I'm sure that will be their aim this season. Plymouth are a steady side and they will bring a lot of fans so the atmosphere should be good. It's game on for us. Plymouth can come and enjoy it somewhat but we have had them watched and we know we will have a game on our hands."

On turning his thoughts to team selection, Curbishley stated: "Our new signings Nobby Solano and Henri Camara are cup-tied but we're hoping Scott Parker will be back. With Craig Bellamy, we have to see. He wants to give it a go but we'll have to see if we decide to risk it tomorrow or wait for Arsenal." The Hammers are acutely aware there will be little respite before the Premier League leaders visit on Saturday. "If Craig doesn't make it we have only two recognised senior strikers. We could bring in youngsters if we wanted to but I can also play Freddie Ljungberg or Luis Boa Morte up there. We can cope."

When questioned about another absentee striker, Curbishley admitted there is growing concern over Bobby Zamora's lingering knee injury. It still remains unclear when the former Spurs front-man will be able to resume a season that was put on hold following the 2-1 victory at Bristol Rovers in the previous round at the end of August. "We started the season with Zamora and Bellamy and on Sunday it was Ashton and Carlton Cole. It's just the way things go," said Curbishley. "Since the Bristol Rovers game Bobby's knee keeps swelling up. It's not the same problem he was struggling with last season but we have tried one or two things and it hasn't quite happened so we will have to re-assess that now." Elsewhere, Richard Wright will take over from Robert Green in goal with the former Everton and Arsenal man having made his debut at Bristol Rovers but then being dropped back to the bench. Also, Wales defender Danny Gabbidon is likely to make only his second start of the season, having been used for just four minutes of Premier League action so far this term.

Provisional squad: Wright, Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Upson, Gabbidon, McCartney, Bowyer, Mullins, Noble, Etherington, Ashton, Cole, Pantsil, Collins, Spector, Ljungberg, Parker, Boa Morte, Davenport, Reid, Bellamy.

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