Craig Bellamy and Nolberto Solano are both "training well" as the visit of Liverpool draws ever nearer for West Ham United.
Assistant manager Mervyn Day revealed the duo could be in contention for Wednesday night's encounter at the Boleyn Ground but said caution would be required, particularly with Bellamy whose reserve-team action this week was his first since 27 October. "Players always target the earliest game possible so we have got to look at it seriously and see whether they are actually fit enough to have any part of the game," he told WHUTV.
"Certainly they are training well but Nobby's not had a reserve game or any sort of competitive football since he did his hamstring [a month ago] against Man United. Craig has been out even longer [with an abdominal problem] and has only literally played 87 minutes in a reserve match - so realistically it is going to be a big ask for them to be involved but who knows what the situation might be in a few days' time."
Day said the mood in the squad was upbeat with Scott Parker returning to the training ground after a period of rest following the knee injury he suffered against Manchester United on 29 December. The lack of a first-team fixture this weekend has also helped freshen up the Chadwell Heath routine.
"It has been nice to have a week to get together and get ready for Liverpool. We have mixed it up a little bit. We have had a couple of days' work, then given them a day off, then another couple of days. Sometimes it is a bit hard work to keep it serious, but they have had a good few days so far and as we get closer to Wednesday we will start building up more specifically for Liverpool."
One player who will be particularly targeting the visit of the Reds is France winger Julien Faubert, who has now made three substitute appearances. As with Bellamy and Solano though, Day said it was important not to rush things. "He has got really tight calves at the moment. He had 45 minutes in a reserve game, he said he felt was ready to be on the bench and he has come on two or three times now and had a bit of a start at it.
"You are always going to get little niggles when you have been out for a period of time, that is the thing we will be worried about with Craig Bellamy - it is not necessarily the injury, it is the other muscles that haven't been used in competitive games for such a period. The stress they are under is enormous, so we have got to take everything nice and steady - certainly with Julien, with Craig and eventually when Scotty comes back - because they can put other parts of their body under massive stress."