Glenn's Guessing Game

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Glenn Roeder admits he doesn't know who Claudio Ranieri will employ to take on the Hammers on Wednesday night - while his own starting line-up is somewhat easier to guess.

Glenn does not expect to have to tinker with his side too much for the FA Cup fourth round replay, whereas Chelsea seem to 'rotate' even within games, never mind from week to week.

"The one thing when you play Chelsea, who are a top five side, is that you never know which team they will put out because they have so many to choose from," says Glenn.

"But we have played them three times now so we certainly know all about each other.

"Whoever they put out we have a fair idea about the style and type of player, and once we see the team sheet we will have an idea what the formation is going to be."

For Glenn, the biggest dilemma is who to put on the bench, with Jermain Defoe stepping off it to replace the suspended Paolo Di Canio.

"We are without Paolo and Michael Carrick, but I'm sure whoever we put out will get wrapped up in the atmosphere and put on a performance that will be good enough on the night," he says.

"Paolo is suspended for three games and if we can get over this difficult hurdle of Chelsea then he will miss the next cup game and one league game. If we weren't to get past Chelsea he would miss two league games which would be very disappointing.

"As he showed on Saturday in how well he played he is completely focused on what we have got to do in the rest of the games we have got to play.

"Jermain is really looking forward to the game and it is a great opportunity for him to be playing against the likes of Terry, Desailly, Gallas - a great experience for him.

"Every game is different and all the players know a lot about each other. It is a question of our concentration being good on the night and sticking at it."

Glenn hopes there are no complications in Michael's recovery programme following groin surgery, and he adds: "Until you get him back out for the first 90 minutes you never know but we hope to have him back in no longer than six weeks playing again.

"It is crucial that he does, but until we see him out there in the shirt again I will have to wait and see."

Ironically, Saturday's league opponents Bolton Wanderers - who face Tottenham in the FA Cup on Tuesday night - claim to have only 15 fit players, and boss Sam Allardyce has claimed that even if he wanted to rest Michael Ricketts for the game against Spurs it would be impossible.

For Glenn too, there are no thoughts of being able to rest players even though he sees the trip to Lancashire on Saturday as a crucial game too.

"We want to do as well as we can in the FA Cup this year - as any other Premiership team should want to," he says.

"We will give it our all on the night and hopefully that will be good enough. It is always a special atmosphere at Upton Park for a night game and we are looking forward to it.

"But every manager will tell you the league they are in is where they earn their crust and obviously league points are always what everyone is trying to get as quickly as they can."

Glenn does not wish to discuss speculation about being offered a new contract, and is understandably more anxious to secure a home tie with Preston followed by a third away league win of the season at the weekend to add to the victory over Blackburn on Saturday.

"We needed that result. I was happy with the performance and very happy with the result," he says.

"I thought we scored two excellent goals and that we defended stoutly at the back, especially after getting nothing at Southampton where, before they scored after 43 minutes, we were by far the better team.

"That is what made it so frustrating when you are away and you don't get the break that you are trying to get. Then the goal changes the game - and we conceded a silly goal.

"So we had to bounce back on Saturday and we did that very well."

Glenn hopes that Wednesday night can continue the momentum towards the long trip north at the weekend and admits: "We haven't got a good away record this year at all - we have had some poor results.

"But it is not just ourselves at West Ham who have been poor on our travels, there are quite a few Premier League clubs that would also be unhappy with their form on the road.

"It goes without saying that it is that much more difficult to pick up points away but that is no excuse - we should have done better and we have got to work hard to pick up points in the six away games that we have left this season.

"It is something that is inexplicable. Perhaps levels of concentration are that much better at home but then again it is all excuses.

"I don't like making excuses and I'm not going down that road. We have just got to improve our away record starting with Bolton on Saturday."