Manager on Monday

Avram Grant has already been hard at work back on the training pitch with his West Ham United squad in preparation for a week featuring two very different Uniteds in opposition.

The Hammers travel to Old Trafford on Saturday evening to face Manchester's finest but before then will take on the Football League newcomers from Oxford on Tuesday night.

The expectation in midweek will be firmly on Grant's men to produce the goods and book their place in the Carling Cup third round - in turn giving morale a lift before the return to Barclays Premier League action. Certainly, should the display match the effort of the weekend just gone, then progress seems assured.

West Ham were imperious for much of Saturday's contest against Bolton Wanderers, with Pablo Barrera and Frederic Piquionne aggressive in attack and a trio of established Hammers offering encouraging signs of fresh starts in claret and blue after past injury woes - namely Herita Ilunga, Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer, who hit the post and was electric on only his eighth league start in three years.

Tellingly with the new-look side still gelling under Grant's direction, Bolton Wanderers capitalised in the second half - with perhaps some good fortune from key decisions - to ultimately win 3-1. Still, the manager rightly saw reason to be positive even if Mark Noble's late penalty was all the Hammers had to show against a Kevin Davies-forced Matt Upson own goal and a Johan Elmander double.

"Despite the two defeats this season, I am very much encouraged," said Grant, who had been back out on the training pitch with his squad on Sunday and may have the likes of Tal Ben Haim and Manu da Costa in contention for Tuesday's tie although Thomas Hitzlsperger is still out. "They showed they have strong character and a high spirit. This, along with the good football, we played is important.

"We had two big chances, and half chances. We created five times more chances than them but didn't score.

"The key to keep the morale high is to continue playing like we did against Bolton and not the way we did against Aston Villa [on the opening day]. If we do the right things we will have a good season. It will not be easy but we have the ability."

Grant was pleased with how his side coped with Bolton's direct balls before the skipper Upson departed with a facial injury caused in that opening goal. He was also delighted to see Dyer and Barrera flying on the flanks and Piquionne lively in support of Carlton Cole, who was unlucky to miss a penalty at nil-nil in the first half.

"Kieron was brilliant in the first half. Barrera is a good player and will be better and better as time goes on. He and Freddie and he gave us a lot of pace in the final third. It was a strange game. We played good football we did everything right and then we lost the game."

With the transfer deadline closing at 6pm on Tuesday week, it is expected that the Hammers may still yet be welcoming some more new faces. Grant reminded of the club's great strides to overcome financial issues since the turn of the year and - with five signings already in despite such issues - was positive about the help coming his way in the months and seasons to come.

"Last year every day [at Portsmouth] was a surprise. But here I knew the situation of the club. We knew we had to pass this year and the owner said there will be more resources. We need to deal with it. We are trying to build this team for the long term.

"If we do the right thing we will be OK. The owner says there is debt and the situation is not good but we know every year there will be more money."