Belfast Telegraph

Kouyate to drop into defence

A shoulder injury to James Tomkins means Cheikhou Kouyate is likely to find himself at the heart of West Ham's defence at Arsenal on Saturday - and the Senegal international has a plan.

The 25-year-old midfielder has been used to plug a hole in the centre of Sam Allardyce's defence already this season and Kouyate wants to use the performance of his former club Anderlecht as inspiration for leaving the Emirates Stadium with a positive result.

Tomkins, who has recently penned a new long-term deal at Upton Park, dislocated a shoulder in training on Thursday and joins fellow defender Winston Reid on the injury list - with forwards Andy Carroll, Carlton Cole and Enner Valencia also likely to miss out and Alex Song nursing a slight knee injury.

Add to that Carl Jenkinson's ineligibility against his parent club, and Allardyce will be selecting from a much-depleted pool for a fourth successive Barclays Premier League London derby.

But Kouyate was in the crowd as his previous side Anderlecht recovered from a 3-0 half-time deficit to take a Champions League point home from north London and he wants to follow in the footsteps of the Belgian outfit.

"I have never played at the Emirates stadium before, but I know I will play my game and try to enjoy it. I want to help the team and battle for the points," he told whufc.com

"Arsenal is a very big team, but West Ham need the points. It's a very good game and London derby, which I like. I'll go to Arsenal to do battle.

"I went to the Emirates to support Anderlecht in the Champions League earlier this season and they did very well and drew three-all.

"I was very happy because Anderlecht is my second family. Arsenal went 3-0 up and I was thinking 'What is this game?' but in the second half Anderlecht came with a new mentality.

"It went to 3-1, then 3-2 and then 3-3 - it was unbelievable!

"I am very happy for Anderlecht, but now West Ham go to Arsenal and it would be fantastic if we could do the same. We want to get a draw or even a win."

The Hammers confirmed on Friday morning that Tomkins required hospital treatment as he became the latest player ruled out of Allardyce's squad.

''West Ham United can confirm that James Tomkins has suffered a dislocated shoulder. The 25-year-old was taken for hospital treatment and will continue to be assessed by the club's medical staff,'' they wrote over two tweets.

Kouyate enjoyed a short stint at the heart of West Ham's defence alongside Tomkins due to injuries earlier in the year - scoring against Manchester United and quickly adapting to the role.

It is likely he will return to that position for the trip to Arsenal, with the highly-rated but inexperienced Reece Oxford another option.

In attack, Cole and Carroll are missing with respective hamstring and knee problems, whilst Valencia is a doubt having suffered a deep cut to his toe after standing on a broken teacup.

The number of key first-team players in the treatment room will no doubt be a worry to Allardyce who has seen his side win just one of their last 11 Premier League fixtures.

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