Michael's Back

Michael Carrick returns to action at the weekend after missing the game with Sunderland on Saturday, while Steve Lomas will have to wait a little longer to make his comeback.

Michael took a gash to the leg against Stoke and Alan Pardew says:

"He took it early on and didn't moan or whinge or anything - he just got on with it and in hindsight perhaps we should have taken him off.

"At the time he was suggesting to us that he was okay but I think in the future we will make sure we keep an eye on anything like that because in the end he didn't do himself any justice.

"He is a top, top player and we need our top players playing well."

His willingness to play on indicates the desire to contribute, and Alan adds:

"On that side of it I couldn't fault the players; they have been great for me though we haven't got the results we wanted or played the way we wanted as yet.

"At times and in periods we have but we are looking to string 90 minutes together where we do - I suppose the Wigan game is the only game where we have hit it off and we need to reach those heights."

Steve Lomas is still on the comeback trail after getting 90 minutes in a reserve team friendly during the week and Alan adds:

"Lomy has got a bit to do yet but we are desperate for him to come back because we think he will be massive for us.

"We just think the Christmas period is a bit too early for him, which is a shame.

"But everybody else is okay and I am really looking forward to Saturday."

Matthew Etherington returned to action for 80 minutes against Sunderland and Alan adds:

"It was important; he took a while to get going which you would expect when he has been out so long but once he started contributing in the second half you could see the dimension he gave us.

"Certainly from his side the crosses started to come in and we started to look like we had some width to the team which was desperately missing when he was out of the team."

Christian Dailly misses the trip through pleurisy and Alan adds:

"He has got this illness, obviously he is out and we have to move on; I always look at it as a door closing for somebody and a door opening up for someone else.

"Christian's misfortune is someone else's gain - we wish him well of course but as a team and a squad we move on."

Alan is giving no clues about who will be captain in his absence and adds, inscrutably:

"I'll give that some thought!"

Neil Mellor returns to contention while of course Rob Lee is on the injured list after a recent knee operation.

For Walsall, Steve Corica and Pedro Mathias are out and on-loan Jamie Vincent is doubtful but Paul Merson is back in contention after a virus.

Walsall have lost just one of their last six home games, winning four and drawing one, while West Ham have lost one and drawn five of their last six away games.

SQUAD: James, Repka, Hutchison, Carrick, Connolly, Defoe, Harewood, Etherington, Quinn, Ferdinand, Horlock, Mullins, Pearce, Stockdale, Deane, Bywater, Mellor, Garcia, McMahon, Cohen.