Sam Allardyce is hoping that his West Ham United side can recapture the form that saw them brush Fulham aside before the international break.
Victory over Norwich City in Saturday's 12.45pm kick-off would give Big Sam's team their first away win of the season and would mean an outstanding nine points from a possible 12 to start the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League campaign
Speaking to the press ahead of the trip to Carrow Road, Big Sam spoke about new Saturday's game, the club's new signings, pre-match handshakes and much more.
Sam, what is the team news for Saturday following the international break?
SA - "Hopefully all of our international players have returned unscathed. We are still waiting for Winston Reid to return following his exploits with New Zealand and as far as we know he is fit and well. Everybody else has come back raring to go and other than Jack Collison and Andy Carroll we are fully fit."
Will Yossi Benayoun start the game?
SA - "I couldn't possibly answer that question at this point in time. Yossi has been away with his national side and only had a light training session today, so we will assess the squad on Friday and make a decision on the starting line-up from there."
The worst case scenario regarding Andy Carroll was that he would miss six weeks. Has that changed?
SA - "We haven't put a specific date for his return. We think it will be the maximum of six weeks. He is improving well so we will continue day-by-day and take it from there. We won't put any pressure on him to return by a certain date, but if there is a possibility we can get him back quicker than expected we will try to make that happen."
One man who could take advantage of Andy Carroll's absence is Carlton Cole. How big an opportunity has he now got to show his credentials now?
SA - "He is an obvious replacement and we want Carlton to pick up from where he left off last season. He scored a hatful of goals last season helping us to get back into the Barclays Premier League, so we would now like him to step in and score the goals we need to win in the Premier League. He scored 15 in total last season but five came in the final six games. We hope he can continue that form, starting on Saturday."
How big a signing is Yossi Benayoun and what can he offer in terms of experience, having already played at the top level and for West Ham United?
SA - "The last three signings that the Joint-Chairmen gave the go-ahead for were absolutely brilliant for us. Andy, Yossi and Matt Jarvis are all very good players and they possess the talent that make us a much better team. Hopefully, when they get the opportunity, they will show us that talent. We have Matt, the provider who hit the most crosses in the Premier League while at Wolves. Yossi has quick feet and a terrific ability to create chances not just for other players but for himself. Of course, Andy is a fantastic centre-forward with great talent, physicality and drive."
Are talks continuing with Mark Noble regarding a new contract?
SA - "Talks have been on-going since the end of last season and I would have thought they would continue until a conclusion is reached. Hopefully that conclusion will see him sign a new deal."
Has the fact he hasn't signed a new deal affected his attitude in training?
SA - "No, Mark is Mark. He comes in every day and works hard and he is as happy as any player, particularly after our 3-0 win over Fulham. Every player at the club is in a good, positive frame of mind at the moment, so there is no hangover from him not renewing his current deal."
The transfer window is now shut, but there are a number of free agents still out there. You have been linked with Anthony Vanden Borre, Mikael Silvestre and John Mensah, are there any truth in these rumours?
SA - "They have all been training with us but no decision has been made yet on whether their long-term futures lay with the club. I would have thought a decision would have been made on all three by the end of next week."
What are your thoughts on the independent report on the Hillsborough disaster, which was released this week?
SA - "I think that it is sad to hear that such a thing was covered up for 23 years, but I am absolutely delighted now for the people who suffered that the truth is finally out. I think the importance of safety in football was taken on by every single club from there on in. Football grounds now are as safe as they possibly can be. Unlike a lot of clubs abroad who still have hooliganism problems, we do not appear to have any within the grounds, so from that day massive strides have been made to ensure the safety of supporters."
Norwich City snatched a late draw atTottenham Hotspur last time out. What are your thoughts ahead of another lunchtime kick-off?
SA - "I was reasonably happy with the lunchtime kick-off because it allows a manager less time to worry about the game. Our players are OK from that point too. This is our third consecutive 12.45pm kick-off but the only thing we are worried about is trying to perform as we did against Fulham. Hopefully our players can hit the same levels they did last time out but, like every away game in this league, Norwich will provide a difficult test for us. It will also be good to see Chris Hughton at his new club, but hopefully I will be the one smiling at the end of the game."