Vlad's Back

  • West Ham are 16/1 to win 2-0; Labant 25/1 to score first -
    Click for full odds with Surrey Sports.

Vladimir Labant returns to the travelling party to north London at the weekend - while Glenn Roeder admits he does not know if Paolo Di Canio will return this season.

Also included in the squad are young defenders Glen Johnson, Izzie Iriekpen, and Anton Ferdinand - in the latter's case, for the first time.

In the case of the Slovakian, earmarked to take over from Nigel Winterburn when he leaves in the summer, it is a quick return after suffering back spasms during the first half of the Fulham game - for which Nigel, who had played two days previously, was rested.

"Vladimir is included in the squad; he is still a little bit sore but the bruising is coming out every day and he is feeling better every day," says Glenn.

"He trained yesterday for the first time and, although he was a little bit stiff after the session, he trained today and will be fine for the game at Tottenham."

Despite reports earlier in the week that Paolo Di Canio might even return as early as the Newcastle game, however, Glenn counters:

"It is touch and go whether Paolo can make the final game of the season."

As for the other injuries, Glenn explains:

"Don is obviously out until next September, Paul Kitson has got a slight problem with his hip flexor, Foxey is out at the moment, Scott Minto returned yesterday after about a week or so, young McCann is out for the rest of the season, and we don't want any more injuries.

"Generally speaking this year we have done quite well on the injury front, and that is due in no small part to the efforts of the players to be as careful as they can in training - we make sure we do not overdo things because we can't afford the players breaking down.

"I have also had great support from the medical team, and John Green and his team, Simon Webster, and John McCarthy.

"He has made a big impression on us with his professionalism and what he has brought to the club; we tend to call him a fitness coach but he is a sports scientist.

"I have also been delighted with the input I have had from Ludek Miklosko, a new member of the backroom team, and in his first full year back he has done exceedingly well with all the goalkeepers."

With Paolo on the injured list, Glenn admits the club are lightweight up front.

"Of course we are; with Paolo out and Paul Kitson out, and now that we have sold Todorov to Portsmouth, it would mean Richard Garcia," he says.

"But that is not a problem for Richard, who is considered at the club as a striker as well as an attacking midfield player - he has become quite versatile over the last year, and if I had to put him on as a striker, I would have no qualms about it."

That would appear to put him above Titi Camara in the pecking order at the moment, and Glenn says:

"Titi is still working hard on his fitness - and he needs to do that."

SQUAD: James, Hislop, Andersson, Pearce, Sinclair, Dailly, Moncur, Schemmel, Cole, Carrick, Winterburn, Garcia, Labant, Kanoute, Defoe, Repka, Lomas, Courtois, Johnson, Ferdinand, Iriekpen, Potts.