Bowyer back in contention

Alan Curbishley is hoping to have two of this season's key men Lee Bowyer and Matthew Etherington back in contention on Saturday for the FA Cup visit of Manchester City.

Bowyer, in particular, will be eager to play should all go well - having described the previous meeting between the two clubs when City won 2-0 at the Boleyn Ground on the first day of this season as "the worst game I have ever played". In an interview with the matchday programme, he explained he "was probably trying a bit too hard" to impress. "I am big enough to hold my hands up and accept that. It wasn't acceptable. I knuckled down and things have started going well."

Few would argue about his turnaround in fortunes. From that inauspicious beginning, the experienced midfielder has been a real plus this campaign - scoring four goals in ten league appearances. His stand-out performance was the two goals and assist he had in the 5-0 win at Derby County on Saturday 10 November. However, a subsequent hernia operation has kept him out ever since.

Bowyer, in his second spell at the Boleyn Ground, is determined to get back involved and give his all for the Hammers fans. "I would like to finish playing here," he said. "That would be my ideal; the icing on the cake for me and my career. I support the club, I love the club. Always have and always will. It will be the perfect scenario for me to come home and finish at the club I love."

Regarding the 30-year-old's fitness and that of left-winger Etherington, Curbishley said: "They have been training fully for the last nine days so we will have to see nearer the weekend. They are probably the two closest." The manager added that a number of other players have been back in full training - suggesting a clearing treatment room at Chadwell Heath. "There are some that are following up behind who have been in training. Julien Faubert is one of them. There is a reserve game [at Aston Villa] on Monday which we are hopeful a few will play in."