Personnel Problems

West Ham have injury and illness problems to add to the suspension of Lee Bowyer for the trip to Everton on Saturday.

Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, and John Moncur all have gastritis - which is why the veteran midfielder misses out on a reserve team appearance against Watford on Tuesday evening.

"Moncs is fit from an injury perspective but a number of players have had this gastritis that Paolo Di Canio went down with before our last game," reveals physio John Green.

"He was training today but he is still struggling and a little bit weak.

"I have had it myself and we have currently got Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe both ill with it - but we have no doubt they will be available for the weekend."

Sadly, Don Hutchison faces further injury frustration that will force him to miss the trip to Goodison Park and John adds: "Don has got a little bit of a tendon problem around the patella on the opposite knee to the one that was operated on, so it is nothing to do with his previous injury.

"We expect that to settle down in about 10 days so that is not a long term problem."

Richard Garcia has a hamstring problem, and John says: "It is just a minor thing. He will miss the reserve game at Dagenham but will probably be available next week."

Nigel Winterburn is back in training after a wrist operation, though, and John adds: "Nigel is recovering well from the operation and there is a screw in the wrist holding the two bones together.

"He will wear a brace to play and he has been training every day, so it is just a case of mobilising the wrist to receive more movement there.

"But there is no doubt that if he was called upon to play he would be available.

"Everyone else is fairly good, and we are trying to keep the team consistent. One thing you look at with successful teams is that the manager usually picks the same players.

"We are obviously trying to keep Les and Jermain ticking over, then in one more week we will obviously have the return of Paolo and Fredi to make us a lot stronger up front again.

"Although it probably doesn't appear so to the supporters, injury-wise it has been a good season, really.

"We have just had the two horrendous injuries with Fredi and Paolo, both obviously key forward players who have been out for a long time.

"Fredi is now firing on all cylinders and just waiting for his suspension to be completed, and he is ready and willing to come back into action for Sunderland.

"The injury that he sustained in that Chelsea game back in September was a nasty tear of the adductor, and, whereas a lot of people will refer to injuries around the groin as a strain or a tear this was a complete rupture - so the muscle was torn in half.

"You obviously have to wait for that to repair, and once it has repaired you have to wait for it to be strong enough, and that requires gradual progressive loading which culminated with his trip to America where we were able to do work that is very difficult to do in the normal everyday environment, both for me and for Fredi.

"Being away from the normal training ground distractions allowed us to work specifically on his problem twice a day, and he was having five or six hours of work on that injury for about eight to 10 days.

"As regards Paolo, the specialists that he goes to see in Bologna are unhappy with the strength of the knee on some of the isokinetic testing, and felt that he needs further time out there to recover.

"I think we said at the onset of the injury that these lateral meniscal things can suffer from prolonged swelling afterwards, and that the swelling then affects the power of the knee.

"Obviously Fredi's problem is done and dusted but Paolo's still remains, but as far as we know nothing has changed on him coming back on Sunday.

"We agreed a programme with the professor in Bologna and they are sticking to that, so he will be available for training on Monday morning after the Everton game.

"Dr. Steinbergs obviously speaks fluent Italian, being half Italian himself, and he keeps in close contact with the specialists and the surgeon over there."

Any hopes that striker Youssef Sofiane harboured of getting some first team experience this season have dissipated, however, and John says: "From a point of view of playing for the first team Youssef is out this season, but he will be resuming running this week, and the injury looks significantly better on the new scan that we have had.

"He is obviously a player for the future and is only a couple of months outside playing for the youth team, so from an age point of view one of the problems we have got with him is that he is probably too quick for himself at the moment.

"Once his skeletal structure has solidified a little bit more he won't get these training problems that he has been getting.

"He is the quickest player at the club by a long way and he is very, very, powerful. There is potential there to harness and it is up to us to make sure he doesn't keep breaking down.

"He tore one of the adductor muscles off the thigh bone, a similar injury to Fredi Kanoute but just a different adductor muscle - and not as severe as Fredi's was.

"We are just hopeful now he will settle down in the next four to six weeks to the point where he will resume playing games before the end of the season, have a good break in the summer, and then come back raring to go in the pre-season."