Sam Allardyce has faced the media ahead of Saturday's match against Aston Villa at the Boleyn Ground.
Big Sam answered questions on the latest team news, Carlton Cole's fitness and the club's recent home record.
Morning Sam, what's the team news ahead of Saturday?
SA: "Matt Taylor is definitely out, James Tomkins I think will be ok and the rest of the injured players will not figure in Saturday's squad against Villa. It leaves us with quite a big problem in terms of numbers. We're very short of first team squad players available for Saturday so it's about getting on with the job and using the players we've got available and making sure they try and bring us the three points at home that we're looking for. We've been hugely disappointed with our points total, not our performances, and that must be the key factor in what we want to achieve on Saturday. When we've come off the field we must have accumulated more points to our total because continuing to lose at home is now not acceptable, well it's never acceptable and we must stop it on Saturday."
As a manager, how do you make the most of this situation where you're missing a lot of first team players?
SA: "We've got to continue playing like we're playing. Certainly at Swansea, Tottenham away and the home games we've played, we have to remind ourselves how good we've been even though at home we haven't got much out of the game. We have to continue to be more resilient out of possession, I mean we have the best defensive record away from home in the Barclays Premier League but we haven't got the best defensive record in the Premier League at home. Get back to that and make sure we come off with a zero because I believe that we will score at home with better chances of scoring there. We have scored a few goals at home and we only need one goal to win us the game. We obviously want to win by more and score more but at the moment goals have been hard for us to come by so keep that clean sheet like we do away from home, score one goal, win the game and let's move on. If we get the injured players fit and get a bigger squad to choose from we'll get better as time goes on."
Is Carlton Cole in contention for a Premier League start this weekend?
SA: "He's not quite ready for a Premier League start. He played on Tuesday night and that's the equivalent of game three of his pre-season, game three of pre-season for us was Boreham Wood not Burnley away."
What have you made of Aston Villa's start to the season?
SA: "I think they've had a very difficult start so I think the points they've gained was a bonus for them, particularly winning at Arsenal away. I think Paul will probably be a bit disappointed recently with the points that he's gained from the teams they've played and he has our problem of failing to secure enough points at home. It looks like it's the case for a few teams at the moment, Swansea have only won one in ten at home and Sunderland, before beating Newcastle, have struggled to win at home. There's quite a few teams in the Barclays Premier League who are suffering similarly to ourselves and finding it difficult to get the points at home so it shows that tactically teams are setting out a defensive wall and it becomes very difficult to find open spaces that can be exploited. Away teams are picking up results that way and it's a difficult scenario for us to contend with and make sure it doesn't happen to us anymore."
Andre Villas-Boas touched on teams putting so many men behind the ball after the Hull City game, how do you get past that?
SA: "They do the same, whatever they might say, when they play in the Champions League or Europa League when they go away. Chelsea played the same way away at Schalke 04 and played on the break, Manchester United will do it when they go and play a Bayern Munich away. We all know that they play that way themselves so they can't really criticise a team that comes to them and sits behind the ball because they do it when they play their bigger games, particularly in the Champions League. When you hear a manager moaning about that then he should really watch what he's saying, because when he does it he wants to get some praise for what he does, particularly if he ends up winning. We all have to tactically set out how to break down the opposition and how to nullify the opposition. We all have to make sure that we make our players aware of what they have to do on that particular day to try and win the game."
Four of your next five games are against sides in the bottom seven, is this an opportunity to pick up points and climb the table?
SA: "No not really. Yes it's a better chance but at the moment we are one of those teams that are struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League, not the performances but the points on the board and that's all that matters at the end of the day. From our point of view last season at home was an absolutely fantastic ride and all of a sudden this season we were expecting it to carry on but it's been bitterly disappointing. Having only lost four at home last year, we've lost three already. Everyone said we had to improve our away form and we've done that but it's no good unless you continue your home results, so we'll have to start picking up home results as quickly as possible.
"We're all in a similar position at the minute; we're all desperate for three points to move forward into what will be the hardest period of the season. We've all had international breaks one after the other and we're three months into the season and have only played nine matches. When we get into the back end of November the games come thick and fast and the points are then chalked up on the board pretty quickly so the league starts taking shape. If we continue with our injuries as they are, and that's with not such a heavy schedule, that's my concern at the moment."
Do the players now feel extra pressure at home after recent results?
SA: "They're bound to feel extra pressure, more anxious, but they've got to remind themselves of the good performances that they've given and try to continue in that vein from a confidence point of view. We create chances, don't take them and we get punished. You look back and Leighton Baines hasn't scored another free-kick like that all season but scored two against us. Jermaine Pennant's hardly played for Stoke since and probably never scored one like that in his life but scored one against us. I can't criticise too much the way we've defended but what I can criticise is the way we haven't finished teams off when we've had the opportunity. We were 2-1 up against Everton and we didn't finish off with a victory, we should have got a 0-0 with Stoke but we didn't. I'm not so sure we should have got anything against City because they were better than us the whole way through.
"We play Aston Villa and there's only one thing on the players' minds and that's to win the football match. We always set out how they should win it. They never get a piece of detail which is extra to the fact that they know exactly what they've got to do to beat them, because we give them the lot. They know how to expose their weaknesses, they know how to nullify their strengths, we can talk about systems all day long but it means nothing unless the individual plays to his best. I can pick any system I want but if the players don't play well the system will fail. If the individuals play well in that system then the system works. As always we continue to tell the players they must convert their chances. We've got the worst conversion rate in the Premier League at the moment according to our statisticians, so we've got to make that better."
With the injuries you have at the moment, is the extended run in the Capital One Cup testing the squad even more?
SA: "I think at this moment in time yes, there's no doubt about that. I would hope by the time that the Capital One Cup quarter-final comes round against Tottenham that a lot of the players that are injured will be fit. Trauma injuries like Ricardo Vaz Te and Stephen Henderson, who was on loan at Bournemouth, there's not a lot we can do for that type of injury. When it comes to muscle injuries, we've got to do all we can and make sure we limit those as much as we can. Mladen Petric felt a tight calf in the warm-up for the Under-21s at Wolves and that's turned into a couple of weeks when he would have been playing at Burnley, which would have been great match practice for him.
"George McCartney keeps coming back and getting another injury in a different area. Alou Diarra's had an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), little we can do about that. Andy Carroll with his planta fascia, little we can do about that. James Collins does a hamstring playing for Wales, not our fault. When November and December roll around and suspensions kick in where players pick-up five bookings and get a one game suspension is another problem. At this moment in time my focus to the medical staff is to get them fit and make sure you keep them fit otherwise it will be a long, hard winter for us. Villa is my only focus at the minute, trying to get three points and make sure the lads play their best."