Curbs up for the cup

Alan Curbishley is looking forward to the Carling Cup visit of Macclesfield Town on Wednesday as an immediate chance to bounce back from the weekend's result in Manchester.

Following on from last season's narrow quarter-final exit at the hands of Everton, the manager is determined to once again attack the cup competitions in the hope initially of securing a place in Saturday's third-round draw. "It was a disappointing weekend for us so we're looking forward to the game," Curbishley said. "As we did last year we'll attack the competition as I feel that a Premier League team will win the League Cup."

Curbishley is treating the competition with the respect it deserves and should name a experienced starting lineup that may also include 18-year-old striker Freddie Sears while Carlton Cole could also be in the frame despite coming off with a back problem in the 3-0 loss to Manchester City. Robert Green is also likely to figure with Jan Lastuvka still settling in at the Boleyn Ground. He said: "I'm not going to change too much of the team that played at Man City. I'm going with the strongest side I can put out to start with as we need the game after Sunday."

The competition offers not only a chance to add to the Boleyn Ground trophy cabinet, but a possible way of bringing European football back to east London with the winners going into the UEFA Cup. "It's also a route into Europe," the manager added. "We got to the quarter-final last year and got beaten really late on by Everton, so we're going to attack it and progress as far as we can."

Curbishley is not taking anything for granted though and knows that the opposition from League Two will see the match as an opportunity for a potential giant-killing. "I'm sure they will relish the chance to beat a Premier League side and knock them out of the cup. They will come to Upton Park really looking forward to it and they are going to try to make it as difficult as they can," he said. "We know that and we have got to make sure we overcome it and being a Premier League side, that's what we've got to do."

The manager is also looking forward to welcoming back some key first-team players, as Anton Ferdinand talks with Sunderland about a proposed transfer. George McCartney has resumed full training after a hamstring problem and then a virus and may be involved, while there could be first starts this season for Lee Bowyer and Luis Boa Morte. "George McCartney needs some football first," he said. "The injury is OK it's just he's missed most of pre-season; he hasn't played a pre-season game. We'll have to see if he gets any football tomorrow or Saturday, I think it's more likely tomorrow night than anything."

Wales captain Craig Bellamy is back in full training, although Wednesday's game appears to have come too soon. Curbishley will assess the striker's fitness before seeing if he could be involved against his former club Blackburn Rovers this weekend. "I don't know if he'll be playing on Saturday, that's a bit too far away so we'll have to see. He's so fit as a person; we'll have to see how we get on this week."