Speculation Denied

Glenn Roeder says speculation linking David James and Jermain Defoe with moves to Manchester City and Manchester United at the end of the season is wide of the mark - and concedes Paolo Di Canio is out for the Spurs game through illness.

With two of the Hammers' high profile stars the subject of conjecture this week, Glenn shrugs it off and says: "I don't want to lose any of our top players but you can't stop speculation. There is so little transfer news now with the transfer window - which I don't like - that when someone does get a sniff of something that they think might happen they go into it in a big way.

"I wouldn't be encouraging any of these clubs to be making bids for our players and as far as Jermain Defoe is concerned, he has got such a big future in front of him and I only see him scoring goals in a West Ham shirt.

"He is learning an awful lot from Les Ferdinand in training where the two have worked together and I am delighted, by the way, that we have got Les because if you look at the injuries Tottenham have got they may well have held on to him and he might have been playing against us rather than for us on Saturday."

Regarding Paolo's situation, Glenn says: "He came in on Monday and we sent him home with a cold, and the next day he did some light training in the gym.

"He has contracted gastroenteritis and will miss the game against Spurs but he will return to training ahead of the Everton match - I'd be disappointed if he was not fully fit for that.

"He is going back to Italy to see the surgeon who did his knee operation for a check-up. There is nothing sinister in that, as it was arranged some time ago.

"I am not going to enter into a national debate every time Paolo or anyone else is substituted. Football is a team game and the priority at the club is to concentrate on the game and be perfectly in focus for the remaining 10 games.

"We have players in this squad who are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the good of the team, as is proven by the fact that I have had to ask many players to play out of position this season and none of them have moaned - they have all got on and done the job to the best of their ability.

"Where we are now, the team is everything. We have 10 of the most important games this club has ever been involved in; that's the issue for me and that's the issue for the rest of the players as well."

As for his contract situation, he adds:

"We have never been in a position this season where we can sit down and talk about it because of our league position so nothing has changed.

"It is not the right time to discuss his or any other player's contract - we want to concentrate on picking up the points we need game by game and we don't want to distract from that.

"For me it's not the issue everyone else is making it out to be; it detracts from what we are trying to achieve - which is survival."

Glenn says comments attributed to Paolo had not disrupted preparations for the game, and adds: "The other players have trained well this week and are perfectly set for the game against a very attractive Spurs side."

Regarding the FA charge for Dennis Bergkamp as a result of an alleged elbow on Lee Bowyer at Highbury in January, he says: "I wouldn't want to get involved in the Bergkamp situation; it is entirely for Arsenal to deal with.

"They have a brilliant manager who knows how to deal with these situations and it is not our business any more.

"It is just incidental that the charge has come because of what happened in the game against us.

"At the time it was very annoying because it was the second goal which won them the game, but it doesn't bring a point back and even looking over your shoulder for one second would be a waste of that second."

David Noble is included in the squad for the first time since his move from Arsenal.

Squad: James, Bywater, Van der Gouw, Johnson, Repka, Pearce, Dailly, Brevett, Bowyer, Moncur, Cole, Schemmel, Carrick, Breen, Garcia, Cisse, Hutchison, Sinclair, Defoe, L Ferdinand, Lomas, Noble, Byrne.