Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Allardyce fears winter injury crisis

Sam Allardyce's West Ham squad is thin in numbers at present due to several injuries

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has admitted his side could face a "long, hard winter" if the injury curse at Upton Park continues.

Matthew Taylor is the latest in a long line of Hammers players to be sidelined after suffering a knock against Burnley in the Capital One victory on Tuesday.

Mladen Petric is also out for a couple of weeks after aggravating an injury in an under-21 team run-out, while Ricardo Vaz Te dislocated a shoulder against Swansea on Sunday.

Together with long-term injuries to players such as Andy Carroll and the fact that the re-signed Carlton Cole is not yet ready for a Premier League start, it has left West Ham's squad depleted as they prepare to face Aston Villa in a vital home encounter on Saturday.

Allardyce, whose side have been drawn against Tottenham in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals, said: "It leaves us with a problem in terms of numbers. We're very short of first-team squad players available for Saturday.

"But it's about getting on with the job and using the players available and trying to bring the three points at home that we are looking for."

Cardiff are the only team West Ham have beaten at home in the Premier League so far this term, with that 2-0 win coming on the opening day. Stoke, Everton and Manchester City have departed with maximum points since.

"Since Cardiff at the beginning of the season we have been hugely disappointed with our points total, not our performances. Continuing to lose at home is never acceptable. We have to stop it on Saturday," Allardyce said.

"We have to remind ourselves of how good we've been even when we haven't got anything out of the game. We need to be more resilient out of possession. We have the best defensive record in the Premier League away from home but we are just not playing at home."

Allardyce believes it is more difficult than ever to win at home in the Premier League.

He said: "Swansea have the same problem, only winning one in 10 at home, and Sunderland have had that problem. Tactically, teams are coming and setting up a defensive wall which is very difficult to break down and then you can leave open spaces to be exploited.

"It is a difficult scenario that we have to start dealing with.

"I would hope by the time the Capital One Cup quarter-final against Tottenham comes around (in December) a lot of the players who are injured will be fit and we won't sustain any more injuries.

"At the moment it is a concern for us, especially when November and December comes and suspensions kick in. My focus to the medical staff is to get them fit and keep them fit otherwise it will be a long, hard winter for us."

The manager admits the pressure is beginning to build on his team when they run out at Upton Park.

Four of their next five matches, however, are against teams in the bottom seven.

Allardyce said: "We are one of those teams who are struggling with points on the board. All that matters at the end is winning matches. Last season at home was a fantastic ride for us. This season it has been bitterly disappointing.

"The players are bound to feel extra pressure and feel more anxious but they have to remind themselves of the good performances they've given and continue in that vein from a confidence point of view. We have been severely punished for not taking chances.

"We haven't finished teams off when we had the opportunity. We were 2-1 up against Everton but didn't finish it off for a victory. We should have had a 0-0 against Stoke but we didn't."

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