Curbs raring to go again

Alan Curbishley is looking forward to West Ham United getting back in action against Liverpool on Wednesday night after a ten-day break.

The club has not played since the 1-1 league draw at Manchester City on Sunday 20 January, but the manager admitted he wished the team had not had a free weekend caused by the FA Cup elimination against the same opponents. "We would rather have been in the cup," he said. "But with the squad we've got at the moment and the same people playing most games it has given us a bit of a rest. We're looking forward to it now."

Curbishley has seen both Matthew Etherington and Dean Ashton return to full training after knee and back problems respectively caused them to miss the second City game, while Danny Gabbidon, Nolberto Solano, Craig Bellamy and Bobby Zamora all continue to make good progress in full training. The manager is unlikely to use any of them against Liverpool, while there is also a worry over Julien Faubert, who has made three substitute appearances since his return from a serious achilles injury.

"He has got a slight calf strain, which is something we were hoping to guard against on his way back," explained Curbishley. "It's nothing serious, we think he'll be OK for Saturday but he's probably a big doubt for Wednesday. That was our big fear with bringing some of these players back and putting them in the first team." The weekend trip to Wigan Athletic could also be when Bellamy comes back into contention. "We did push Faubert a little bit, so we'll wait and see on Craig, but he's got through the games and is doing very well.

"Bobby Zamora trained most of last week and is training fully now. We're really pleased that one or two are coming back. He trained really well on Monday and he's got to do a pre-season stint in terms of getting some games in. Nobby trained the last four days but he's been out for a month so it may be a bit too soon for him on Wednesday. Gabbidon played in the reserves as well on Wednesday but he's not 100 per cent either. He won't be risked."

The manager updated on James Collins, who hurt his knee a week ago in a reserve-match at Portsmouth. "He may have cruciate damage but we'll have to wait and see how severe it is," Curbishley said. "If it's something like that he will be [out for the season]. It's just what's happened, one goes out, one comes in. As we've done all season, we've managed just to get along with it. We've come out of the two Man City games full of confidence and looking forward."

That last City encounter saw Lee Bowyer and Luis Boa Morte continue their return to fitness in the first team and Curbishley is focused on the positives. "That's the way things have been going all season. I've said to them that perhaps we've turned the corner and we're on our way home now in terms of the run-in. We can see an opportunity. If we can put some results together we can start attacking the teams above, starting on Wednesday.

"We've got lots of players coming back: Faubert, Nobby, and I've got a couple of kids in [Jack] Collison, [James] Tomkins who - why not? If the opportunity arises, I'll give them a game. Freddie Sears was with us on Sunday up at Man City - and we've got [Kyel] Reidy. I've got four kids who have been in and around the squad for the last month or two and if I have to, I'll put them in. Let's have a look at some of them."