Ian Returns

Ian Pearce makes a welcome return to the squad for Saturday's clash against Sheffield United after suspension and injury simultaneously combined to rule him out for the first two games of the season.

Whether he makes the starting line-up remains to be seen, while Kevin Horlock makes what for him is a long-awaited debut for the club he supports, and wears number 16.

Anton Ferdinand is also included in the squad after making a tremendous recovery from the ankle injury he sustained against Rushden & Diamonds on Wednesday night, and Don Hutchison could return after missing the Carling Cup victory.

Former Hammer Tony Gale thinks it could be a physical game against Neil Warnock's men, and says: "This is one of the stronger sides in the first division, and if you are not up for the battle they will find you out. They are a good solid outfit and don't give anything away.

"They like to play in the last third, a little bit longer, so the likes of Tomas Repka and Christian Dailly will have a busy afternoon in the air.

"But if we can cope with that and get the ball down and play at the other end they will be susceptible to our two good strikers at the moment.

"It has been a good start, and there is nothing more you could have asked for. There were a couple of dodgy moments against Preston and Rushden, but we deserved to win both games.

"The thing that has come out of it is that if we can keep solid during the season we have got the strikers to score us the goals to get out of it.

"There won't be many better than Connolly and Defoe, with obviously Mellor as back-up.

"And let's hope Jermain is banging them away in the Premiership next season - with us."

Squad: James, Bywater, Forde, Repka, Brevett, Ferdinand, Dailly, Pearce, Byrne, Connolly, Lee, Hutchison, Sofiane, Garcia, Horlock, Noble, Etherington, Defoe, Mellor, McMahon.