Upson set for return as Neill misses out
PUBLISHED: 16:09 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:11 05 October 2010
MATTHEW Upson is in line for a return to first-team action when West Ham travel to Bolton this weekend but the England defender s inclusion will do little to solve the club s injury crisis after two more players joined the casualty list this week. Club ca
MATTHEW Upson is in line for a return to first-team action when West Ham travel to Bolton this weekend but the England defender's inclusion will do little to solve the club's injury crisis after two more players joined the casualty list this week.
Club captain Lucas Neill suffered a twisted ankle in the home defeat by Portsmouth on Tuesday night and is unlikely to recover for the trip to the Reebok Stadium.
Mark Noble is also a doubt after missing the Portsmouth match with a hamstring strain, which the Hammers kept under tightly wraps until the final hours before kick-off.
However Upson is ready to resume his place in the back four despite reports that the centre-half had been ruled out for the rest of the season.
The 27-year-old has been sidelined for five weeks with a calf injury and some reports suggested he would not feature again this season following a recurrence of the back problem that ruled him our for four months last year.
But West Ham manager Alan Curbishley is confident that the £7.5million signing will return this week to boost his injury-ravaged side.
"The likelihood is that Matty Upson's will come back, so we may lose one with Lucas Neill and gain one with Upson," Curbishley said.
"Mark Noble did his hamstring last week and we kept it quiet a bit. He's pushing to play but obviously we're struggling [with injuries] a little bit and I can't afford to push him in case he breaks down."
Upson's return will give West Ham a timely lift as they seek to deliver the last rites on Bolton's bid to escape relegation.
Gary Megson's side were thrashed by Aston Villa last weekend and are currently four points adrift in the drop zone following a run of seven defeats in eight games.
With just five games left to play, the bookies have installed Bolton as 6-1 on favourites to be relegated, but Curbishley is aware that they will continue to battle until their fate is sealed.
The Hammers escaped from an equally perilous position last season, and Curbishley knows his team will have to improve on their own recent performances to emerge with a first Premier League win at the Reebok Stadium.
"We've got five games left and we've got a really tough one at Bolton on Saturday," said Curbishley.
"They're fighting for their lives and obviously we need to do much better that we did against Portsmouth."
Bolton captain Kevin Nolan is available following a two-match suspension, but with Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ricardo Gardner and Nicky Hunt all ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, their hopes of beating the drop look bleak.
Bolton 0 West Ham 1