Gianfranco Zola has been boosted by the return to fitness of Scott Parker for the visit of Everton to the Boleyn Ground this weekend.
The West Ham United manager will have a tough choice to make after Hayden Mullins and Jack Collison impressed in central positions in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough. Parker sat out that game and the previous Wednesday's 2-0 defeat away by Manchester United but has worked hard to recover from his calf problem at Chadwell Heath. Indeed, the entire squad have been putting in the hours to help get back to winning ways after four losses and a draw.
Zola said: "Most of the time in those [past five] games we had the momentum going for us but we didn't take our chances and that cost us very much. I'm focusing the team so that next time they will be more ready when we have opportunities. [The Middlesbrough game] was very good. It was important not to lose that game. I think it has produced something because the players are much more confident this week."
Also hoping to be in contention is Diego Tristan, with the striker having got a valuable 45 minutes under his belt in Monday night's reserve game at Tottenham Hotspur. The striker had been an unused substitute against Middlesbrough but there was some initial doubts about his availability this time after he felt the full force of a strong Spurs challenge. As is the case with Collison, Gianfranco Zola will also give consideration to playing young striker Freddie Sears again.
Definitely out are Mark Noble and Valon Behrami (both calf), while Carlton Cole will be serving the third and final game of his three-match ban after being sent off at Arsenal. Everton also have issues, with key summer recruit Marouane Fellaini suspended for one game after incurring five yellow cards - a fate that could befall the fit-again Parker were he to be cautioned by Mark Halsey at the weekend.
"Fellaini's going to be a big miss for them because, in their formation, he is an important player," Zola said. "They paid a lot of money for him as well so it means they have a lot of faith in him. He's a threat, especially in set plays and when the ball is out wide he gets in the box. For them he's going to be a big miss."
For all his respect for the talent within the Everton ranks, it is the fortunes of West Ham United that are occupying the manager's thoughts. "My job is to work with these players and make a better team ... everything I need is in this squad. I'm focused on making them play and perform as well as they can."