Injuries Latest

Caretaker manager Trevor Brooking is facing a massive injury headache ahead of Saturday's game against Chelsea.

All three senior players who were on international duty midweek - Gary Breen, Christian Dailly, and Don Hutchison - have returned with knocks, to add to the walking wounded - Joe Cole, Steve Lomas, and Les Ferdinand - already giving cause for concern.

And, with Ian Pearce, having had his wrongful dismissal appeal turned down relating to his sending off at Bolton, he, too, is out of the picture for the last two games of the season.

Of those that were away, Trevor, who out of respect for Glenn Roeder, does not use his office at Chadwell Heath, says:

"All three had a bit of a knock; Gary had a groin problem, Christian a bit of a sore back, and Hutch has had a knock on his calf.

"Les is obviously a concern, Steve Lomas has an ankle worry, and Joe has a shin problem - and we have to make sure Paolo keeps clear of any gastric problems.

"It is going to be one where we have a little roll call on Saturday to see how everyone has emerged.

"One gives more concern than the others but they are all getting treatment until Saturday, but if they are at all able, I am sure it is a game they want to be involved in.

"In our situation we want to leave until the last minute before making a decision one way or another; it is naturally a difficulty but we will see how they progress and hopefully it doesn't come to that."

As for the rest, he adds:

"Les flew back from Manchester on crutches, but as each day is going by, he is trying to do a little bit more with his mobility, and again, his presence has been so massive with a strong personality, so I would like to leave it until the very last minute as I would like to include him one way or another.

"Joe has got two knocks and has certainly improved in the last 24 hours, while Steve has had an ongoing problem which deteriorates after playing but again he is getting some mobility back which we hope mean he will be there.

"One might miss out, but to be honest, I don't know - we will see on Saturday."

He knows though, that the desire is there from the players to play, and he adds:

"It is a game everyone will relish starting because of the support we are going to get; it is the last home game and they have done terrific to give us a chance on 38 points.

"None of the mathematical discussions apply unless we win again so I know everyone will want to be selected."

As for Chelsea, he adds:

"It is a big game for them, though they have the cushion of the home game against Liverpool, so they could lose to us and then beat Liverpool to guarantee a Champions' League place.

"But I am sure they would want to keep a decent run going into that; they have a lot of talented players but you never know who they will select.

"With the likes of Hasselbaink, Gudjohnsen, Zola, Cole, and defenders like Gallas, Terry, and so forth, wherever you look they have got experience and quality.

"At some stage during the match I am sure they will give us some sort of problems and it is just a case of trying to build on the confidence we have got - I don't think we need to fear them but we need to be conscious of their strengths."

Trevor - who cancelled an appearance on Chelsea TV scheduled for Wednesday evening, arranged before he took over, on account of having a more pressing engagement! - says of Claudio Ranieri's tactics:

"He will switch things around during a half, let alone a game, and sometimes people say he does it too much.

"But I think the players are used to it now and certainly if you are playing against them you have to be prepared for anything - but thinking about your own game as well."

It is only a couple of weeks ago that Ranieri was exhorting his players to fight and battle as, he said, West Ham had been doing recently - but he certainly didn't expect to be facing Trevor Brooking in the dugout just a fortnight later.

"It is unbelievable really, but there was a big weight off after the first weekend, and whatever happens everyone will believe now the continuity discussion was the right one.

"But of course we want a bit more than that, we want to get to the third week, and it is about making sure the players get onto that pitch ready to go.

"The mood is excellent; everyone has been lifted by the win and more importantly by the progress of Glenn as the week has gone on.

"So there is every reason for us to feel a little more upbeat than we did this time last week, but again when they take the field we must make sure it is clear what needs to be done - and we need the fans trying to help them get the victory that once more we so desperately want."

As for the possibility of playing 4-3-3 with the need to win so great, he adds:

"We did that in the second half last week and I suppose it depends what players are available to you and on the bench and whatever - but over the 90 minutes we need to come out with three points.

"It is something we were aware of last Sunday and we are aware of in these last two games, that if we got over the first obstacle it was going to apply in the second and third."

Meanwhile, Trevor thinks a story in one newspaper linking Joe Cole with Valencia barely merits a response, but he does say:

"I don't think that will distract anyone, Joe or whatever, but all such talk will continue to gather momentum whilst there is uncertainty about where we are, who is involved and so forth.

"The main factor is to get this game out of the way to try and apply pressure to those above, and then if we could emerge still intact and looking at the last game I am sure we won't be distracted then.

"I haven't felt the need to speak to Joe on that; I don't think his Spanish is that good anyway - and he's not practising."