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2012-09-09T23:13:00 Updated 2015-02-19T01:55:53

Manager on Monday

Sam Allardyce is looking forward to getting back to Barclays Premier League action when West Ham United travel to Norwich City for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.

After a convincing 3-0 win against Fulham in their last league outing made it six points from three matches, the Hammers have had to be patient as international fixtures meant a game-free weekend. A host of first-team players will be away with their countries until the middle of the week, meaning Big Sam and his coaching staff will have an opportunity to work with a smaller group at Chadwell Heath ahead of the Carrow Road clash.

"The whole team played well against Fulham and it was nice to go into the international break with two home victories already secured in the league," said Big Sam. "All managers have to deal with the break, but we're all experienced enough to know what we have to do with the players who are here and keeping in touch with those that are away.

"We're all in the same boat and those that get their act together quickest when they come back are the ones that can help us get another good result. We must not forget how hard we worked against Fulham and we must do the same again when we play Norwich."

If the Fulham match was anything to go by, one area that might not need as much fine tuning is West Ham's passing game. Pundits and former players alike were queuing up to praise the way the Hammers dealt with a talented Fulham side with some slick, attacking football.

"The best way for a team to play is to have variation and we have shown that since the beginning of the season.

"We go short, we go long, we go forward, we go back, we go diagonal and we go in behind. It makes us very hard to play against and luckily we have the players like Ricardo Vaz Te and Mark Noble who can adapt.

"It was good to see the quality of our finishing being so good. Before we scored our second we had two or three really good chances that all tested the keeper."

While Andy Carroll continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury, Big Sam has plenty of capable attacking players waiting in the wings. Last season's top scorer Carlton Cole is one obvious option, while Modibo Maiga is in a rich run of form after scoring on his full debut for the Hammers against Crewe Alexandra and for Mali in a 3-0 win against Botswana on Saturday.

"I really like the variation of the squad. We have a lot of talent - young, old, homegrown and foreign - and it all adds to the mix to form a very strong squad, which you need in this league.

"We have Matt Jarvis and Yossi Benayoun, who are both ready to make an impact. As you saw against Crewe, Modibo Maiga is already finding his way, as is Alou Diarra, and I think that Gary O'Neil is also getting back to his best."

While the manager will have to make at least one change in the striking department, there are also tough decisions to be made at the back. Hammer of the Year runner-up James Tomkins is still pushing for his first Premier League start in defence, where he faces some tough opposition from the likes of Winston Reid and James Collins. The duo were imperious in the Hammers' two Premier League clean sheets on home soil so far this season.

"We have terrific strength in depth in defence and it can leave Tonks frustrated, but he will get an opportunity when the time is right.

"James [Collins] is away with Wales and Tonks will continue to work hard in his absence. You saw how good a player he is when he came on against Fulham against good forwards like Dimitar Berbatov."

Joey O'Brien was also an integral part of the Fulham shut-out and his manager is delighted to see him once again show the form that promised so much from his early days at Bolton Wanderers. O'Brien will train with Ireland ahead of their friendly with Oman on Tuesday, before joining up with his club team-mates once more in time for the Norwich fixture.

"I've got to give a great big boost to Joey O'Brien. He was one of the best young players I ever worked with when I was at Bolton. Injuries have dogged his career but I asked him to fill in at left-back against Fulham and he gave the kind of performance that I saw many years ago. I hope for him that he keeps that up.

"There were a lot of people who had forgotten about Joey in the game and playing like he did against Fulham will get people to sit up and take notice. I hope he continues that kind of form as the season progresses."


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