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2014-07-24T06:08:00 Updated 2015-02-18T21:30:42

Big Sam ready to shuffle the pack

Sam Allardyce will make changes to his West Ham United side when they face Sydney FC in Wellington, New Zealand, on Saturday.

The likes of Mauro Zarate and Stewart Downing, whose introduction so nearly salvaged a draw from Wednesday's 2-1 defeat by Wellington Phoenix in Auckland, goalkeeper Adrian, Joey O'Brien and youngsters Diego Poyet, Dan Potts, Danny Whitehead and Matthias Fanimo could all be handed starts at the Westpac Stadium.

The manager will be without the services of Andy Carroll, who is absent with an ankle injury, as well as Cheikhou Kouyate and James Tomkins, who suffered ankle and groin problems in the midweek defeat.

With those three players absent and others completing an hour or more against the Phoenix, Big Sam confirmed he will shuffle his pack for the second and final game of the Football United Tour.

"Cheikh and James have stayed behind in Auckland because they've got injuries that mean we've left a physio with them," said the boss. "Cheikh has gone for a scan to make sure there is no more damage than we've initially assessed medically, while James has got a groin strain towards the end of the game.

"There was little point us flying them all the way here, so we have given them the full attention of one of our physios back in Auckland. Cheikh was caught just above the ankle when the boy tackled him and he was rather fortunate he didn't break his leg, so we're pleased about that.

"I'm not expecting the news to be too bad because he wasn't limping as badly in the morning as he was after the game, which is usually a good sign. The scan is a precautionary measure just to make sure there is not more damage than we actually think.

"Our preparation for Sydney is to assess the time on the pitch spent by the players who we've got with us. We'll give some players more time than others and we've got to give players who have come all this way and who haven't had much time on the field as yet. We'll pick a team on Friday that serves both purposes - to get the players out there and get everyone as much match-practice as we can.

"I'll sit down with the medical team and assess the knocks and bruises suffered in the match on Wednesday and we'll prepare for training on Friday from there."

Looking back on Wednesday's defeat by Wellington Phoenix, Big Sam said his players had benefitted greatly from the competitive nature of the game, despite the result.

"I thought the Phoenix were very good, as is always the case when we come and play a team which is not in the Premier League - they play their best," said Big Sam. "They tried extremely hard and, if you speak to their manager, I'm sure he would say that was one of the best performances they have put in recently.

"We're 20 days into the new season and the lads didn't find their feet quickly enough and, by the time they did, they were 2-0 down and couldn't find their way back into the game. In terms of a physical contest, it certainly was that and there were one or two naughty challenges, but in terms of the tempo of the game, I thought the lads got a really good workout.

"It really did lift their match-fitness levels to another level in pre-season that we haven't had up to now.

"We travelled down to Wellington on Thursday and we'll do a little bit of training on Friday and then we're into another highly-competitive game on Saturday which concludes our very nice, well-accommodated trip to New Zealand."

The game also gave thousands of West Ham supporters from across the region and beyond the opportunity to cheer their heroes on - many for the first time in their lives.

"For me, I didn't think there would be many West Ham fans get this far, but they're everywhere again! They were in and around the bars, the hotel, the airport and flying with us and they've been everywhere.

"Lots and lots have flown from Australia to watch us and that just shows the support West Ham have across the world."

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