Double Boost

Glenn Roeder is boosted by the impending return to England of Paolo Di Canio to England following a period of rehabilitation in Bologna, following hot on the heels of Fredi Kanoute's return from a spell of treatment in America.

Fredi is back at Chadwell Heath - though not ready for first team football yet - and Glenn says:

"It was just good to see Fredi playing pain-free as far as I could see; it is great to have him back.

"I am expecting Paolo to return to Chadwell Heath on Thursday morning, and he doesn't normally take too many days to get himself fully fit.

"He will be getting into the football by the end of the week, and although Manchester United is going to come too soon for him, which is a great shame as he loves playing at Old Trafford, who knows that he won't make the Blackburn game.

"When your two most experienced strikers have only played twice together and you are coming to the end of January that tells its own tale."

A recent delegation visited Paolo in Bologna, and Glenn adds:

"We wanted to know how he is doing and according to Ges Steinbergs and Russell, one of our fitness coaches, who actually worked with him, he is coming on really well.

"I spoke to Paolo on the phone while our people, including Paul Aldridge, were over there, and he sounded very positive to me like he couldn't wait to get back.

"He gave me an indication of when he thought he would be back and I was pleasantly surprised.

"John Green is hopeful that with a week's football training Fredi will be fighting for his place in the team and if we can get Fredi and Paolo fit soon, and if they stay fit for the rest of the season, that is going to help us in the offensive part of the team hugely - it is going to help us in our task of hitting our points target."

Glenn is hoping the fighting spirit shown against Arsenal, in trying circumstances, will stand his players in good stead at the Valley on Wednesday evening, and he says:

"It is a vital chance to bounce back and an entirely different type of football match with league positions counting for very little.

"Against Arsenal I thought we started fairly brightly from the kick off, and were doing more than okay until Steve Lomas was adjudged to have brought Pires down.

"We got hit twice there, one with the penalty and two by losing Steve Lomas with a straight red - then have to play the champions with 10 men for 70 minutes.

"We had a bright enough start, were well enough in the game, it suddenly all went pear-shaped for us."

Glenn is unhappy by implications that he called Robert Pires a cheat and is keen to set the record straight.

"I have seen the media description of Pires allegedly being called a cheat and I have got to say here and now that I hate that word - and I certainly didn't call Pires a cheat," he insists.

"I wouldn't use that word; what I was saying that players in general, and I am not just talking about Pires, don't need any excuses to fall over in the box and put referees under incredible pressure to make a decision.

"If he doesn't give a penalty - and I am convinced quite a few referees wouldn't have - they have to take the other action against the player that has fallen over.

"It is just a trend that has caught on that players go to ground very easily now - and make the job of referees pressurised.

"But there is nobody at West Ham calling Robert Pires a cheat and that word wasn't used - and I am disappointed to have seen that word mentioned, because I certainly didn't use it.

"All I am saying, and I stick by this, is that he didn't need too much of an excuse to fall over.

"The other thing is that as far as the spectacle is concerned - and I know whether a game is a good spectacle for supporters is the last thing on referees' minds - is that from our point of view we really did have our backs against the wall after 14 minutes, and you couldn't have expected us to exert much pressure on the Arsenal goal.

"We knew how tough it would be with 11 against 11, but we had a particular game plan with two banks of four and Joe dropping off Jermain, so it was 4-4-1-1 as we were at Blackburn when we had a good performance and a good result.

"Of course a spanner is thrown in the works when we had to pull Joe out the centre to play in a wider position and leave Jermain on his own up front.

"They all did well in terms of grittiness and determination, and yet again showed everyone there is no problem with team spirit - which I am sure is going to stand us in good stead in the next couple of months, which are going to be difficult for everybody.

"The players showed a lot of bottle, but Jermain had very little support because we spent most of our time defending deeper than we wanted to.

"Overall, though, we did it very successfully and David James had a very good game against an Arsenal team that always creates chances.

"We deserved to come in at 1-1 and we felt it would be crucial not to concede a goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

"We didn't, until 25 minutes in, and we were defending well, working ever so hard, and what we deserved and should expect is for the referee, especially so close as he was, to pick up on the foul on Lee and give the correct decision - which was a free kick to us.

"None of our players or myself were looking for Denis Bergkamp to get another yellow card which would have meant his dismissal, just for what we should have got and the game staying 1-1.

"Who knows, they might have got another goal, but the game would have been different and no one knows that we wouldn't have held on in those final 25 minutes.

"It was a killer blow, though we kept going, and on the counter attack they hit us - and I will put my hands in the air - with a world class goal.

"The Denis Bergkamp incident is a major decision that unfortunately for us - and it has happened too often this year, it really has - affected us.

"There were a couple of decisions at Old Trafford recently with Phil Neville bringing Defoe down in the opening minute and then Jermain scoring a wonderful goal that was struck off for offside, when clearly he wasn't.

"A battling point from the game at Arsenal would have given us a great lift - but we have to get on with it."