West Ham have doubts over four players for Stoke City clash as Carroll is ruled out again
PUBLISHED: 07:31 28 April 2017
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Hammers boss insists the Potters will not be ‘on the beach’
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is monitoring the fitness of four of his players for the trip to Stoke City tomorrow (Saturday), but one man he will definitely be without again is Andy Carroll.
The striker has been ruled out once more, despite his manager expecting him to return for the trip to the Britannia Stadium.
And there are also doubts over Cheikhou Kouyate, Winston Reid, Arthur Masuaku and Diafra Sakho’s fitness, something the boss was hoping to address in training yesterday (Thursday).
“We have training for some players who haven’t trained with the rest of the squad all week,” said Bilic yesterday (Thursday).
“Kouyate, Reid got a bad knock, Arthur got a knock as well, a bit more than a knock to be fair.
“They are all doubtful, but then Robert Snodgrass and Sofiane Feghouli should be back.”
One decision the boss will have to make is whether to bring his skipper Mark Noble straight back into the starting line-up following his two-game suspension.
In his absence against Everton, Havard Nordtveit put in a fine display to give Bilic something of a dilemma.
“It is a sweet problem to have,” added Bilic. “It is much better to have those kind of headaches rather than not having enough quality to choose from.
“Havard played really good and we have Mark back and he is our captain, but we don’t have to drop Havard, it can also be some other rotation.”
That suggests that Kouyate may well not be fit enough to start and Bilic will partner Nordtveit with the captain.
His obvious preference in defence would be to keep the three central-defenders in, but Reid’s fitness may scupper that hope.
“We have used a couple of systems through this season and last, but it depends on who we can select. We will pick the formation when we know who is available,” said Bilic.
Sam Byram is also back from suspension, while if Masuaku doesn’t make it, Aaron Cresswell will step straight back in on the left of defence.
With Carroll still out, the manager must make a decision on whether to stick with Jonathan Calleri, or risk playing Sakho or even Ashley Fletcher.
“Sakho came on and did really good against Everton,” he said. “He is very close to the old Sakho so we are going to see. He also has a small problem which is why training is so important, not for a big work-out but to see who will be available.”
There are many pundits suggesting that ‘safe’ Stoke are already on the beach, but Bilic does not expect that.
“I don’t think they are,” he insisted. “A couple of games ago they played Hull City at home and really wanted to win that game.
“Now they are on 39 points, but they are not on the beach. I would like them to be on the beach, but you stop that sort of talk with the name Mark Hughes and his assistant Mark Bowen.
“They are never on the beach, they are proper hard men and that is the reality.”