Grant has to think again

Avram Grant is preparing to take on Liverpool without Scott Parker but with every confidence his men can give a good account of themselves on Saturday evening.

Much has been made of Steven Gerrard's hamstring injury for the Reds, but Parker's likely absence with a chest infection will have as significant an impact on proceedings. Parker has played every minute of every league and cup game for the Hammers this season and been a driving force at the heart of midfield.

With the visitors looking for a return to winning ways, the manager said: "Scott has a problem. The doctor has been checking him and we are not sure if he will be available for the game. I can fight only with things I can change so we can play with other players but he has a good old-fashioned English attitude. This is why we have a squad, for situations like this."

Already out for the weekend was Manuel da Costa, with the Portuguese central defender sidelined until the New Year following ankle surgery, joining Jack Collison (knee) and Thomas Hitzlsperger (thigh) on the longer-term casualty list. Da Costa was hurt by Cesc Fabregas's tackle late on in the Arsenal game three weeks ago and it was subsequently decided an operation was needed to resolve what the manager described as "a bad injury".

There has been positive news elsewhere in the squad with Mark Noble, Junior Stanislas and Zavon Hines all over their respective appendix, groin and knee troubles, while the likes of James Tomkins and Winston Reid are giving the manager food for thought at the back. Tal Ben Haim (foot), Kieron Dyer (hamstring) and Valon Behrami (hip) are working hard to return to fitness and match contention. Freddie Sears, meanwhile, has extended his loan at Scunthorpe United until January.

Noble continues to earn the manager's praise for his dedication and devotion to the cause. "He is amazing. He played two weeks after the appendix operation. That's what I said to the medical department - there are players who are not [governed] by the books."

Grant has fond memories of going to Liverpool as a young coach in the 1970s and watching the methods employed by Bob Paisley, as he had also done with Ron Greenwood at West Ham.

"I spent a week there. It was different because apart from Ron Greenwood at West Ham and Liverpool, all the other teams trained with high balls and fighting. Liverpool and West Ham played football that was unusual at the time.

"I was very young. I was waiting for the assistant manager to take me to training and I had a blue shirt on. I didn't know the rivalry between Liverpool and Everton. I was in front of my hotel and he looked at me and said 'You are wearing a blue shirt'.

"I asked if there was something wrong with it and he just said 'You are wearing a blue shirt'. I asked the concierge what was wrong with the shirt and he said 'where are you going?'. When I said Liverpool he said I was crazy. Then I changed my shirt."

Grant is looking forward to hearing the "fantastic" travelling army of Hammers fans at Anfield, and believes they and the players will be inspired by the setting. "You feel the history, it is something different and we are looking forward to the match."