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West Ham United travel to Sunderland on Sunday looking for a second strong away display in a week after the 1-1 draw at Everton.

The Stadium of Light has been a happy hunting ground for United in recent years with two wins and a draw from the last four visits while Nolberto Solano inspired a 3-1 success in the previous meeting at the Boleyn Ground last October. However, it is not certain that Bobby Zamora or Freddie Sears will make it with the 18-year-old striker having missed out on England U19 duty in midweek. West Ham United manager Alan Curbishley said: "He is struggling a little bit. He felt his groin soon after going on at Everton and played on with it.


"He didn't say anything until afterwards so we have just kept him off it. We will make a decision. He hasn't trained all this week so we will have to see." Curbishley added that the knock could explain why Sears hit the post late on in the game at Goodison Park last Saturday. "If he was feeling his groin a little bit, then perhaps that's the reason he didn't get away completely and give himself a bit more time to hit it with the inside of his foot."

There were positive reports for those on senior international duty including Freddie Ljungberg who played an hour for Sweden against Brazil, Jonathan Spector with the United States in Poland and Lucas Neill who went to China with Australia. "[Ljungberg] come off because it was a planned thing, there is nothing sinister about it ... All the players have come through the internationals. Lucas got through it all right. George McCartney didn't play [for Northern Ireland] because his partner went into labour."


The manager revealed he spent Wednesday night watching John Pantsil play for Ghana against Mexico, having heard positive reports from the previous evening when James Tomkins scored twice for England U19s in a 3-1 win against Russia. After his debut at Everton, the defender could celebrate his 19th birthday by retaining his place in the side this weekend as Matthew Upson is not certain to return alongside Anton Ferdinand.

With regard to the defensive situation alone, Curbishley believed events this season have underlined the strength in depth. "The squad has become stronger because there are players who thought they would be under threat from the new signings who have played a lot of football. Now we know we can compete in the Premiership so when the others come back we will be stronger. [Danny] Gabbidon, [James] Collins and Upson are missing. Add them to the squad and you can see the strength."