Sam Allardyce has held his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture with Southampton at the Boleyn Ground.
The West Ham United manager was quizzed about everything from international breaks to racism in football to his thoughts on Saturday's opponents.
Big Sam's press conference ahead of Saturday's sold out showdown with the Saints can be watched in full on West Ham TV now!
Sam, the international break has come to a close. How is your squad looking ahead of the clash with Southampton?
SA: "We are OK other than the shock of Senegal versus the Ivory Coast in which we had two players involved in a horrific situation. One (Guy Demel) was injured so he didn't play but they have both come back OK. Andy Carroll has got back and he is OK. Winston Reid did not get back until late on Thursday but he was called up despite being injured and had to fly 26,000 miles to not play. Everybody else is doing well. Our main problem is that Winston had a back problem before he left and we do not know how he has responded to treatment over in New Zealand. Guy has a thigh problem and will probably not be ready for Saturday and we have a few other injuries but internationals-wise they have come back OK."
Do you think that going away with the England squad has benefitted Andy Carroll and his return to full fitness?
SA: "I think it has, yes, but I know Andy and I know he would have probably liked to have played a lot more than he did. But he has had two weeks in a very competitive environment and he got 17 minutes against San Marino. Playing with some very good players will have brought him up to speed and hopefully he will stay fit for us in the future."
Looking at the state of the pitch in Poland, Andy may have been the ideal man to go on and get a goal. Did it surprise you that he wasn't brought on?
SA: "I am not here to criticise Roy Hodgson's decision-making process but I would have liked Andy to play because he is my player. Roy is obviously the man in charge and he has his view on who he wants to play and who he wants to bring on and I have absolutely no problem with that."
Southampton were promoted with you last season and received a lot of plaudits for the way in which they played. Does it satisfy you that they were unable to match you in the transfer market and points wise so far this season?
SA: "Well they have matched us because they signed a £12million player in [Uruguay midfielder] Gaston Ramirez during the transfer window. We only have Andy on loan and we paid a lot less than that so I think that they have gone out into the market and spent big like we all have to. What I do think is that we have coped with the Barclays Premier League very well at the start of this season and I also think we had a group of fixtures that were less challenging than Southampton's. From a Premier League point of view our experience is probably better than theirs so hopefully that will be a telling factor on Saturday. Our confidence is also very high because we have been very good at home. I am hoping to see the same kind of performance that I saw against Aston Villa, Fulham and Sunderland. If we play like that we will create opportunities and have a very good chance of winning the game."
Would you agree that Southampton have a Barclays Premier League attack with the likes of Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, but a Championship-standard defence?
SA: "I don't know and I do not think Nigel Adkins will look at in that way. Perhaps you in the media look at it that way because they have scored and conceded a lot of goals. There are two ways of playing the game and that is in possession and out of it. If you do not get both right you do not win. What you do out of possession in the Barclays Premier League is just as important as what you do with it, especially during your first season. If you can get both of those on an equal par you will do well. It is usually more difficult to score goals than it is to concede. Southampton have found it easier to score but in doing so they have left a lot of gaps. We suffered the same problem against Arsenal. As we got better in possession they hit us on the break twice and we found ourselves 3-1 down."
As a man at the forefront of footballing science, have you been surprised by the news that England players have had to use caffeine and sleeping tablets?
SA: "In football we all use caffeine in one shape or form in our build-up to the games, depending on the individual, the game and how you want to monitor it. Because they have had that extra dose of caffeine they find it harder to sleep so to overcome that they have been given a sleeping tablet or two. I do not see too much of a problem with it. Because they have had to play 24 hours after hoping to do so it will have had an affect and has meant they probably could not give the performance they would have liked."
In the light of the recent racist incidents in football, have you ever had to give your players advice on how to handle abusive atmospheres?
SA: "No, because we do not get them and that is the bottom line. It is talked about an awful lot but from our point of view we all know where we stand. At the start of the season we all have the keep racism out of football cards, badges and t-shirts and we are well aware of our responsibilities. From within football I do not see any, there have been a couple of incidents in exchanges of words on the field so everyone has brought it up again but I personally have not seen it. From my point of view, in terms of discrimination, I do not see any internally and I have not seen any for many years at Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle and West Ham United. I think that if I have to say anything I would say that this country is one of the best in the world. We will never be perfect but we are one of the best at trying to get it right."