Manager on Monday

Alan Curbishley has urged Carlton Cole to "grab the opportunity" at Coventry City on Tuesday and fire West Ham United into the Carling Cup quarter-finals.

The manager is hoping the striker can continue to impress as he leads the line. Cole performed notably in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Portsmouth, especially as he was up against two experienced central defenders in Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin.

"Carlton was excellent at Portsmouth and I'd like to think that he won over a few more people - including the West Ham fans - who again saw a little bit more of him," suggested the Boleyn Ground boss who saw Cole nearly make it two goals in two league games when he hit the crossbar midway through the second half. "We know what he's got in his locker and, hopefully, he can carry on.

"When I was at Charlton Athletic he had a successful loan spell with us and he should never have left. At the time, we were the right club for Carlton Cole but he then went to Aston Villa, where he got a bit lost before coming back to Chelsea, where the same thing happened to him once again.

"When I arrived at West Ham United, I told him that he needed to get fitter because he hadn't been playing. Since then, we've been waiting patiently and after seeing it all become a bit mix and match up front, he's finally got his opportunity because of the injury situation. He's now got to go and grab it.

"Carlton's had it a bit tough in the past couple of seasons and he hasn't had a chance to establish himself but, recently, he's been coming on and getting chances. He's got to take strength from that because he's got a lot more to offer than just being a target man.

"We don't seem to be very lucky at the moment as far as [Dean] Ashton, [Bobby] Zamora and [Craig] Bellamy are concerned and, at Coventry, Carlton will probably be our only available striker.

"Craig's injury doesn't appear to be too bad but there's something's still niggling him when he's running. Although he had a recent groin operation, it's an abdominal strain that hasn't really gone away since the summer but, hopefully, we can get it sorted out quickly.

"Alongside Scott Parker, Ashton is up and running again and they're probably the two players who are closest to coming back but the test will come when Deano starts kicking a football. I'm so pleased that we've kept a big squad together," revealed Curbishley. "It's really being tested right now because the treatment room is quite full at the moment.

"Our injury situation will dictate how we have to play our next few games and things might not be too cohesive but I'm pleased with the players, who have come into the side and got results from tough games against Sunderland and Portsmouth. Those squad players are going out there and doing the business for us and long may that continue."

At Portsmouth, while Cole hit the bar, Nolberto Solano also twice had headed chances to win it. "It would've been nice if Nobby Solano had nicked one of those headers that came his way but it just wasn't to be," concluded Curbishley, who will also be without his cup-tied Peruvian at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday.

"We're taking a lot of fans to Coventry City for the Carling Cup and we're going to treat the tie with the importance it deserves. We're going for it because we want to get through to the next round."