Curbs set for crucial encounter

With the pressure on today's momentous match against Wigan Athletic, Alan Curbishley admitted he may take more risks with his squad selection, despite suffering a nervy moment against Everton last week.

"For the first time in around 750 matches I decided not to put a substitute keeper on the bench," he said. "My heart was in my mouth when Rob Green dislocated his finger. As soon as he pulled his glove off I suddenly felt very worried.

"Someone behind me shouted: "What are you going to do now, put Ludo in?" It gave us a bit of a scare, so we'll have to see if we do it again.

"On the injury front we have long-term absentees but Bobby Zamora has trained all week and his tendonitis is on the mend. He feels a lot better this week and he's been putting in the best possible preparation. We're all looking forward to the game."

With Wigan experiencing similarly difficult campaign to the Hammers, Curbs said: "The second season in the Premiership has been quite tough for some teams. Once they've stayed up they have to look at their second year.

"It's a little bit different because they're not some unknown quantity. Wigan have managed to keep themselves out of the bottom three or four this season but the run they're on has brought them back into it.

"In the final weeks with three games to go clubs can either go on a poor run and get sucked into it or they can have three good games that can turn a disappointing season into a decent one. We need to get a result and it will be a terrific day if we do."

Whatever happens on the day, Curbs insists the overall experience of this season will only serve to make everyone at West Ham United stronger.

"The players been involved in some big games so it shouldn't faze them," he said. "A lot of the players here hadn't been dragged through the mill too much before this season.

"They had experienced the Cup final, promotion and a good season in the Premiership but they hadn't had an extended run of defeats. It's been a learning curve for a lot of them and I'm sure the Club and the players will be a lot stronger because of it.

"We're going into this game with confidence that we'll get something out of it. We've given ourselves a chance when a lot of people wrote us off. We know what we're capable of."