Parker poised for return

Scott Parker is set to be back in the West Ham United lineup against Aston Villa on Wednesday with his experience a boost for home chances - as will the fans in the stands.

The England midfielder was suspended for the 2-2 draw at Sunderland at the weekend and first-team coach Steve Clarke said his presence this evening would be a plus for the side as it was in the stirring fightback to draw 2-2 against Arsenal a fortnight ago. "It is important to have all your good players," he said. "Scott Parker is a key player for us. We have never hidden that fact. It is very good that he is back.

"It is a shame he had to miss the game against Sunderland. You don't know that but you would like to think he would have helped us in that second half when we had to dig in a little bit and find something. It is unfortunate that we didn't quite find enough but we got a point."

Similarly, in terms of big-game know-how, Guillermo Franco has also looked promising in terms of his Hammers contribution and has been buoyed by his clinical strike at the Stadium of Light. "He has settled in very quickly, very well," said Clarke. "He has good experience for us. The goal will give him a boost. His partnership with Carlton Cole is already showing signs of promise, which is good for us."

While the older heads in the side will be invaluable, Clarke was clear the crowd would be a huge factor at the Boleyn Ground, both on Wednesday and against Everton on Sunday. "They are going to get behind us as they always do. They have a good memory of the finish to the Arsenal game where we finished strongly and on top. They are going to take that into the next two matches and they are going to push us towards that win that we need."

He also had a positive word for former defender James Collins, who "left on very good terms" and "is desperate for us to do well" following his transfer to Villa Park in the summer. With a wry smile, Clarke added: "I am sure he wants to beat us because he is a professional ... I hope he has a stinker if I am being honest!"

Collins' international team-mate Jack Collison will also be eager to do well after his two assists at Sunderland showed signs of him being over the injury niggles that persisted early in the season. "Slowly Jack is getting back to the level of form that he had last season. He had a terrible [knee] injury and you put players back in the team and you can't expect them to be suddenly at the top of their form.

"He has started to show in recent weeks that he is getting back to where he was before. His improvement will continue and we look forward to it."