Manager on Monday

Alan Curbishley will be in confident mood when he heads to Middlesbrough on Saturday - believing his side can continue their fine away form this season.

West Ham United have won 13 of their 22 points this season on their travels, and despite the double defeat by Everton in the space of four days, Curbishley expects his side to bounce back at the Riverside Stadium. "We'll now have to go and get a win up at Middlesbrough and we're certainly capable of that," insisted the manager.

"Although I'll have to see who I've still got left for the game, I can assure everyone that we're going there looking to pick things up again. There are players who are chasing their fitness in the first team and some who won't be fit for some time but at least Julien Faubert is not far off full training while Anton Ferdinand will also start his comeback this week.

"We've got a good squad but we just haven't seen all the players yet. While we know when some will begin training, there are others who have no comeback date and we can only assess it as things go along." Among those missing at Middlesbrough will be the suspended Carlton Cole, who also has a hip injury, but it will simply mean the opportunity for players like Dean Ashton or Henri Camara to shine.

"In the Premier League you get exposed when you throw in people who are not 100 per cent fit and it's difficult," continued Curbishley, who saw goals by Yakubu and Andrew Johnson condemn his side to only their second defeat in eight Premier League games on Saturday. "Everton have been all together and have ploughed on and, while we won up at Blackburn Rovers at the start of a big week for us, they'll be absolutely delighted with their two results against us.

"I'm not sure whether David Moyes thinks that they deserved both victories but they scored the goals and that's what makes all the difference. We had a couple of glorious chances and, on another day, if we'd scored first, we would've taken the points.
"Unfortunately, there was a lot of creativity sitting up in the stands," observed Curbishley. "Injury-wise, it's all about keeping people fit but we've just been unable to do that. Within the space of a week, we've lost [Danny] Gabbidon, [Matthew] Etherington, [Luis] Boa Morte and Cole and you can't carry on losing players like that because it makes things very difficult.

With the transfer window all set to be unlocked on New Year's Day, the manager knows the solution does not, necessarily, lie that way. "The answer isn't just to go out and buy more players," he said. "The right ones might not even be available and I'm not even looking down that road at the moment.

"Meanwhile, I just hope that the fans will realise that the players who have been playing have been fantastic and that they appreciate our injury situation," concluded Curbishley. "They've equipped themselves well and gone out and got us 22 points and, although, we would've liked to have won all our home games in front of our own fans, so far that just it isn't to be - so we need to get the points however we can."