Allardyce reveals selection plans for Nottingham Forest and gives Carroll injury update
12:30 03 January 2014
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce says he will blood a host of youngsters in Sunday’s FA Cup third round clash against Nottingham Forest as he continues to prioritise Premier League survival.
The injury-hit Hammers are second from bottom in the table after a miserable run of seven games without a win.
Injuries and suspensions have ravaged Allardyce’s squad, and he admits “seven or eight” of the club’s Under-21s will get a chance against Forest, while he will also rotate his side for next week’s Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
He said: “At the moment my senior squad comprises 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.
“The younger professionals will be tested. They were all tested in the summer when we took them away [on pre-season] and we’ve got to make the squad up with at least seven or eight U21 players who will get the opportunity to play against Nottingham Forest and show us what they can do. We’ll ask them ‘Are you good enough to play for West Ham?’
“At the end of the day, everybody outside the game and inside the game says, ‘when are you going to start playing your youngsters?’ Then if I play the youngsters people say ‘Oh, you’re undermining the FA Cup’.
“We had one or two little digs before we played Tottenham in the Capital One Cup about the team we were going to play and we won!
“My job is to put the best available team out, bearing in mind what I’ve got after that and the injuries I’ve got.
“My view of the FA Cup is that it’s fabulous and has great history and tradition,” he added.
“There is no doubt about that, but if you are in the position we are and have the injuries that we have, then there is only one major priority at this football club - the Barclays Premier League.
“That won’t change for any football club, irrespective of who they are.”
Ravel Morrison could return against Forest but captain Kevin Nolan starts a four-match suspension and Mark Noble, James Tomkins and James Collins are among their other absentees, along with record signing Andy Carroll, who has finally returned to full training.
“None of the injured players have recovered,” said Allardyce. “It’s back to the walls at the minute as far as players are concerned.
“But we would hope by Saturday that Ravel may be fit. He is having his first run out on Friday.”
He added: “Carroll will be assessed after every training session and he’ll be out training with the lads on Friday, which he has done for a few days now.
“Andy playing football is something we have to take big care about, because he is fit from the injury but not match-fit.
“We’ll start promoting games behind closed doors to get his match fitness up, as we will for Winston Reid, and Ricardo Vaz Te. But Andy is the closest.”
Provisional Squad: Jaaskelainen, Adrian, Demel, O’Brien, McCartney, Rat, Driver, Chambers, Potts, Diarra, Diame, Collison, Moncur, Morrison, Lletget, Whitehead, J Cole, Jarvis, Taylor, C Cole, Maiga, Lee, Gordon.