Paul Planning

Paul Goddard admits that discussions have already taken place about who might be brought in to reinforce the squad next season.

High on the agenda is striking cover, something that is an issue this weekend in the absence of Paolo Di Canio for the rest of the season.

"It is not looking great for Paolo but it hands an opportunity to Jermain," says Paul.

"Unfortunately last week at Tottenham, which people won't know, is that he had tonsillitis, and his throat was terrible.

"He did fantastically well to play with that - for an hour he did very very well, and then he faded.

"He obviously only played a little part in the under-21 game midweek, so hopefully he has picked up enough to be at full strength this weekend.

"He was very drained after the Tottenham game and felt very poorly. Playing with something like that sucks it out of you.

"But he wants to play all the time. It could possibly affect him against Sunderland, but it depends how his body has taken to the antibiotics he is on, and we will just have to wait and see.

"Paul Kitson is not available so I am cleaning my boots in readiness - Glenn has seen me in training a little bit so he knows what I can do!"

Striker-cum-midfielder Richard Garcia is likely to be on the bench as the forward option if Jermain does not get through the game, and Paul is only too aware that, with no other hitmen coming through the ranks at the moment, it is an area that needs attention.

"It is being thought about - the preparation for next season is already underway.

"A lot depends on the financial situation, but myself Glenn and Roger have sat down and spoken at length and I am sure we will do so again in the week to give Glenn the best opportunity to make the decisions he must make."

Of course, Trevor Sinclair can also play up front, and Paul hopes that the player's wish to sign a contract extension signals an end to speculation about his future at West Ham.

"I don't think Trevor was ever unhappy at the club - he certainly wasn't around the building and in training," says Paul.

"But he now sees that things are going in the right direction and his international future has been enhanced by being at West Ham, so hopefully they can sort something out.

"Trevor was very industrious up and down the right hand side on Wednesday for England and showed his versatility again - that will be a big bonus for him with Sven.

"Joe came on and did some super things so he has not done himself any harm either."

Cole returns to the side after missing the Spurs game with a thigh strain, while other selections will be made according to which players in the squad have overcome any illness they may have.

Reveals Paul: "We have a little bit of sickness around the place so there will be a little bit of a roll call tomorrow. There is not a lot you can do about it; it is just one of those things you have to put up with."

As for the Sunderland game, and the need to keep the unbeaten run of four games going, he adds: "Obviously they didn't quite get the result they needed to make them safe so they will be very determined, but so will we.

"We felt we thoroughly deserved the point at Spurs and we are looking forward to this weekend - we are all in buoyant mood."

SQUAD: James, Hislop, Andersson, Schemmel, Repka, Pearce, Dailly, Winterburn, Carrick, Cole, Labant, Lomas, Sinclair, Kanoute, Defoe, Garcia, Potts, Byrne, Courtois, Minto.