Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Waiting For A Chance

West Ham United's new signing Radoslav Kovac may have to wait for his chance to break into the Hammers' starting line-up, but assistant boss Steve Clarke is convinced that he will be a good addition for the club. The 29-year-old Czech Republic international signed on a loan deal to the end of the season with a view to a permanent transfer, and the former Chelsea coach insisted that Kovac is just what they were looking for. "He is a good signing for us because he can play in the midfield where we are a little bit short just now," Clarke told the Newham Recorder. "He can also play at the back and he is a very experienced player, a Czech Republic international, who passes the ball well, which is the way we like to play."

Kovac is a statuesque six foot plus midfielder with experience of playing for his country at the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 European Championships. He has also made 14 Champions League appearances for his parent club Spartak Moscow. "He is not a forward-going player, he is more defensive, but he gives us good balance to the squad, and we have lost a few players in the window, so it is nice to bring one in," said Clarke.

The midfielder will have to work on his match fitness however. The Russian league has reached its close season and Kovac has not played since before Christmas. "It has been the close season in Russia, so we will have a look at him this week and assess him, but I'm sure it won't take him long," explained Clarke. "I haven't seen him in training, but I saw him the day he signed and he looks in good shape physically."

The player himself was keen to experience the Premier League. "I was happy in Moscow, but England is a new call," said Kovac. "I will be 30 soon and after four years in Russia, I want to revive my career and there is nothing better than the Premier League. Moreover, West Ham are a famous club, they are playing at the top of the table, competing for a place in Europe."

So where is Kovac likely to fit into the team? "Ideally he is a central midfield player just sitting in front shielding the defence, but he has to get past Scottie Parker first," insisted the assistant manager. "He knows he is coming into a team that is doing very well, so he will have to be patient and wait for his chance."

West Ham will hope that he fits in as well as the Hammers' other new signing. Savio played only a few minutes against Hull City last Wednesday, but came on for 20 minutes at the Emirates and showed some useful touches to suggest that he could make an impression at Upton Park. "He's settled in okay," said Clarke. "I think you can see he is not the tallest or the biggest, so he will find the intensity and power of the Premier League a bit of a shock. But I thought when he came on he was bright and lively, good on the ball and showed he is not afraid as he got stuck into a few tackles - he will be okay for us."

While Gianfranco Zola and Clarke run the rule over the new recruits, Alan Curbishley has been expressing his reservations about the dwindling squad number at Upton Park. The Hammers held on to most of their top stars despite constant speculation that the current financial climate would force big-money sales, but the wage bill was still heavily reduced, with nine members of the first-team squad leaving. Craig Bellamy, Matthew Etherington and Hayden Mullins were sold for a total of £17million, while Lee Bowyer, Julien Faubert, Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie, Kyel Reid and Jimmy Walker have been loaned out.

Curbishley, who quit the club earlier in the season after disputing player sales, believes West Ham may regret allowing so many players to leave Upton Park in the January transfer window if they suffer injuries. Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: "I don’t think they could have let any more players go. Quite a lot of the fringe players have left and I think it’s left them a little bit short. They seem to be having the luck I never had regarding injuries, they have a settled side and they are playing well. But a few injuries here and there can change all that."

Chief executive Scott Duxbury revealed the Hammers had been hoping to add more players to the squad before Monday’s deadline. Panathinaikos defender Bryce Moon and Dinamo Bucharest’s Sergiu Homei were both linked with moves to Upton Park, but Duxbury revealed: "We’d been looking at a couple of the manager’s targets but a deal couldn’t be concluded."

With regards to Homei, there appears to be a sense of unfinished business. Reports emerging on the continent yesterday suggested the problem surrounds the issue of a work permit, with the player having already signed the relevant paperwork. It would have been a loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer in the summer for a fee just under £1million and there is still hope the deal can be revisited.

Elsewhere, the Mail reports tonight Sam Dalla Bona has failed in a bid to revive his career at West Ham, who have said they are not interested in signing him. The article states that the 27-year-old former Chelsea midfielder is without a club after being released by Napoli but had hoped West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola would give him a trial.

Dalla Bona - who made 55 appearances for Chelsea between 1999 and 2002 - was approached by Serie B side Triestina on transfer deadline day, but was known to favour a return to the Premier League. Only yesterday the player confirmed that he had discussed the possibility of linking up with Zola. "In the last hours of the transfer window, Triestina did approach me, but I have another idea in mind," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I spoke with Zola and I asked him about the possibility of training with West Ham because free agents have until March to find a new club. Zola told me he will ask the officials. I wait for an answer."

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