Tony: I Believe Fredi

Tony Gale says that he believes Fredi Kanoute's denial of a story claiming that he wants to leave this summer - and awaits with interest whether or not he is selected to start against Aston Villa on Saturday.

"Everybody is looking for a story now, especially to say things like Kanoute wants out. If the club were to get relegated there would be a lot of speculation as with every other club in that situation," he says.

"So it is a jumping of the gun and if Fredi says he didn't say he wants to leave you have got to believe him.

"I think most people would see this at face value. I haven't seen Fredi's face on the TV saying he wants to go, so I would take it from there.

"They are just looking for things and I would be very surprised if Fredi said he wanted out bearing in mind how the club have treated him this season, because they have been brilliant to him.

"He is on very good money and has been out for about two thirds of the season with this long, niggling groin injury that the club have given him every chance to get back from - so I wouldn't have thought he has the hump that much."

As for the battle between Les Ferdinand and Fredi for a place against Villa - and his rejection of one former player's assertion in a newspaper that he will never play for the Hammers again - Tony says: "Les Ferdinand started at the weekend, Fredi was on the bench, but Les hasn't done anything wrong and his partnership with Jermain has worked very well.

"It is debatable whether you say he should have started against Southampton but we will see this weekend if he starts him against Aston Villa and does it the other way round, saying to Fredi 'go on, give it the full gun and if we need to replace you after 70 minutes we can bring Les on'.

"But to be honest this is the kind of situation we needed with Jermain, Fredi, and Les all contesting places.

"But the partnership no one has contemplated is Fredi and Les, which I think would be a good one as well.

"I have said time and time again that as the pitches get firmer, the ball is permanently in the air and the players who can contest the ball, especially at set pieces, are going to be invaluable to you, as the two big fellows would.

"I am not saying leave Jermain out because that would be unjust, but whoever is left out of the three could be brought on as shock treatment after an hour or 70 minutes.

"But at the moment with three good strikers to choose from it is what Glenn wanted earlier in the season."