Three-sy Does It?

  • Paolo is 5/1 to open the scoring tonight -
    Click for full odds with Sky Bet

As everyone anticipates the return to action of Paolo Di Canio against West Bromwich Albion, and whether he will start or not, Glenn Roeder says he could accommodate him, Fredi Kanoute, AND Jermain Defoe in the same team.

While the chances of that happening against the Baggies remains remote, it nonetheless presents an intriguing possibility for the season - and one that would give a tactical alternative.

On the possibility of playing the 'three musketeers' together, he reveals: "I wouldn't be surprised if there are times during the season when we do do that.

"You have to remember they were the three strikers we had last year; without doubt Paolo and Fredi took the lion's share of those appearances and Jermain had an incredibly good season in the fashion that he did.

"Admittedly that was mainly coming on from the bench, and it seemed to suit him; he is still a very young boy, and we are so impatient in this country to push and push young players.

"I am one person that will not be chased into a corner where I will play Jermain week in, week out, before I feel he is absolutely ready to - both physically and mentally."

Whether Jermain, who of course hasn't scored in the first three games of the season, is taken out of the firing line as far as the starting line up is concerned remains to be seen, but Glenn says, in the nicest possible way, that he is not concerned with the opinions of others.

"I don't care what other people say; I won't worry about that because it will be my call," he insists.

"Jermain is stronger already this year, we can see that he has grown through the summer, and he is a key player who will start more games this year.

"It is a sort of problem I would certainly rather have - a young player that is probably ready to have more starts than last year.

"But we mustn't forget the influence that both Kanoute and Di Canio had on the team last year as did Defoe when he came on.

"I don't think that there were many games at all when he didn't make an appearance at some stage, so I will make the call as I see it."

Talking of Paolo's physical, and mental, state since returning to England, Glenn says: "Paolo returned to England on Saturday and was in training on Sunday. John McCarthy, our fitness coach, assessed the sessions and was really pleased with how Paolo was.

"Aerobically, he was in excellent shape, and John said that Paolo was feeling very happy with himself, the injury, and was confident it was clearing up.

"I could see that when he came back to training on Monday to with the main group for the first time in over a month - in terms of playing football, you'd have thought he had never been away."

Despite Il Maestro's obvious frustration at his injury problems over the last six months, Glenn says: "I don't think that Paolo, if he gets down, he gets down for too long - he has the ability to pick himself up quickly and get positive again.

"When he had the knee injury he was very, very low after the Charlton game and I have a picture of him sitting on the treatment table, so upset that his season had come to an end.

"But very quickly he picked himself up and became very motivated in getting fit as quickly as possible all summer, working for a number of hours a day.

"I think he wouldn't be human if he didn't sometimes get down a little bit, but he soon bounces back as far as football is concerned.

"What happened this time around was that he was getting concerned that his foot injury was taking longer than we thought it would do.

"He found it difficult watching the lads train at Chadwell Heath and thought it was best if he went to Bologna for a couple of weeks, which we allowed him to do.

"I said to him I didn't want to see him until he was fit and ready to play and, to his word, he came back on Sunday in very good shape.

"To all intents and purposes, after he trained on Monday and Tuesday, he is medically sound, physically fit, and all he lacks is playing football matches.

"That is a vital component of match fitness and you can only get it by playing, which is the next stage for him.

"Although he has had little football in the last four months his touch and awareness is still exactly the same as when he left us.

"He is not someone who needs a couple of weeks' intense football work to get his touch back - that is a God given talent.

"He can be away from football for a number of months and the first time he steps back on the training pitch and receives the ball he kills it instantly - you wouldn't think he has been away."

Glenn believes that Paolo's return could inspire the junior players especially, and says: "Very rarely do you come away from the training ground thinking Paolo hasn't trained well, and you hope that bit of him would rub off on other players.

"He always trains in the correct manner, the way you want your players to train, and he always prepares himself for matches in the way you want your players to; the younger players wouldn't go far wrong if they copied him.

"Everyone is very aware of the ability he brings to this football club, and it is here that it is the longest he has stayed anywhere.

"There is no player here who doesn't value having him at the club with the ability he has got - he is at an age now where you love football even more than when you were a youngster because you know it is not going to go on forever.

"You value your time at the training ground and on the pitch even more - you have that attitude because you don't know when the last game is coming."

As for Paolo having been 'out of the loop' and not even a spectator at West Ham's first three games, Glenn says that he is still aware of how the campaign has begun at the club.

"Paolo keeps himself up to date; at his house he has a dish big enough to see just about every football channel in the world - he does study the game and watches as much football as he can," he says.

"He has a satellite dish in his back garden that is so big Jodrell Bank would be impressed - he has kept up to date with our results and how we played to monitor every one of our games.

"He is very aware of what happened in all of our matches, and I would think he would think he is ready to play some part in the game against West Brom."