Bobby Zamora is "raring to go" ahead of West Ham United's trip to Liverpool on Wednesday while youngsters Jack Collison and Freddie Sears are also in contention.
The 27-year-old Zamora scored in a 2-1 defeat at Anfield last year and would relish the chance of being involved. He returned to first-team action on Saturday with a 25-minute run-out off the bench, having previously had three reserve-team games after six months out with a knee injury. Alan Curbishley said: "Bobby is OK. We have been a little bit more careful with Bobby, but he is in the squad and he is raring to go. I was hoping that one or two of the fringe players would come back in the run-in just to give us some fresh legs and fresh minds. He is one of them."
Collison, the 19-year-old reserve-team captain, and 18-year-old striker Sears have been in tremendous form at reserve-team level, having made the jump from the Under-18s. Both are also youth internationals with energetic midfielder Collison having scored twice in three competitive games with Wales Under-21s and Sears forcing his way into the England Under-19 set-up with two substitute showings.
"I have got no fears of doing it," Alan Curbishley said when asked if he would be worried about giving his talented youngsters a run-out. "Freddie Sears and Jack Collison are in the squad because they deserve to be in it and not just because of the injuries. [Central defender James] Tomkins has got a slight groin strain from the last reserve game or he would be in it as well."
The manager added that the trio had all been regularly involved of late with the travelling squad as a precursor to getting their chance. Collison has already made his first-team bow as a first-half replacement for Freddie Ljungberg at Arsenal on New Year's Day and was also an unused substitute for the Birmingham City home fixture last month. "I have had them with us so if they do get their chance it is not too unusual," Curbishley said.
Elsewhere, Scott Parker is continuing to train well after his recovery from a knee injury but will not return until after the Tottenham Hotspur away game on Sunday. "We think it is a little bit too early," the manager said. "We will hold him back for the rest of the week." Julien Faubert, hurt by a challenge from Claude Makelele in the weekend's 4-0 defeat by Chelsea, is doubtful. "We have got one or two knocks from Saturday - Faubert being one. We will see what we have got left. It will be a similar squad [to Chelsea]."