Big Sam on Barnsley

Sam Allardyce has held his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's npower Championship visit of Barnsley to the Boleyn Ground.

The manager said the Hammers were determined to bounce back to winning ways after disappointing defeats at the hands of Burnley and Reading in their previous two fixtures. However, Big Sam admitted his team selection for this weekend would be limited by injuries and suspensions.

The boss also discussed his plans for the January transfer window and the benefits of fielding a fit and settled side. Here is what Big Sam had to say:

What sort of week has it been for you, Sam?

"Not a great one. We're all disappointed that we've gone from our highest point of the season to the lowest point in two games. That's football for you and what everybody turns up to see. When it happens, it's great but sometimes it goes the other way and two defeats on the trot not what we foresaw.

"Certainly a draw at Reading was the least I expected. If we'd have lost, it's fine to lose a game of football. But to have lost a game by losing our discipline and having two players sent-off, it has had consequences in losing points we might have got. The follow-on is that we haven't got Joey O'Brien for the Barnsley game and we haven't got Jack Collison for three games.

"With our squad, as bare as it was at the time, is now even barer. We go into the Barnsley game with less players than we had last week and that's a dangerous situation for anybody, whatever league they are playing in. We cannot select the best team we have from the squad we have got."

Was Reading a case of the players not being able to handle having their feathers ruffled by the opposition?

"In the end it got too much for two players who got sent off. The disappointing thing for me was that I didn't expect them to score immediately after we had a player sent off.

"If the free-kick had occurred in front of our goal and the lad had bent it in the top corner, you hold your hands up and say there was little or nothing you could do about it. When they put, at the very best, a half-decent ball into our box and we couldn't deal with it and they score, it compounds our man getting sent off.

"Instead of being in a position where you have got a point that you want to keep, you've got nothing and you have to come out and score a goal to get a point. Then you get what we got jn the end and that was nothing.

"On top of that, we got another player sent off and as he walked off the pitch, he took the free-kick and scored again. That's the real disappointment for me - that the players left on the field didn't take the responsibility to protect what we had already got."

What state is the squad in ahead of Saturday's visit of Barnsley?

"In terms of numbers, we've still got very few available for selection against Barnsley on Saturday. It's difficult for me because I'm going to have to try to fit a system around what is available, rather than dropping players into a system which has been very good for us this season and got us to where we are.

"It's about what players I have available for this week and playing a system for this week that will suit the players available. Then, we'll talk about Barnsley's strenghths and weaknesses after that and go out there and try to get a victory.

"We've still got David Bentley out for the whole season, Winston Reid, Sam Baldock, Matt Taylor and Guy Demel injured and Joey O'Brien and Jack Collison unavailable. That's 50 per cent of a team and that's very difficult to cope with, but we'll have to. If we want to get to where we want to get to, we'll have to dig a result out."

Will anybody be back this weekend?

"No, not really. Everybody is making progress and getting a bit closer.

"Ruud Boffin has started training after dislocating his finger. Winston Reid is close to starting training and Sam Baldock has started running. Gary O'Neil has started to play games but David Bentley's is a long-term injury.

"We've just got to get through the next game or two before we start to get players back."

You will have to rise to the occasion against Barnsley, though, whoever is available?

"Nobody will give us any leeway - certainly not a full house of home fans - if we don't win, irrespective of how many injuries we have got. They won't see that come Saturday if we don't perform how we can and get the result.

"I'm not saying it is their responsibility to take that into consideration, but it is my responsibility to point out where we are at the minute.

"That's why we'll be going all guns blazing to try to relieve the situation in January, but it won't be easy to find the right sort of player in that month.

"We're not feeling as well as we should be feeling at this stage of the season. We could be waking up in the morning saying 'It's not that bad lads because we're still second in the division and two points ahead' but that's not the case for me.

"The case is that we haven't done our job correctly in the last two games. It's not been bad luck. In the main, it's been our own fault why we've lost two games. It's a great shame to go from the top end of our game to be kicked right where it hurts and we need to respond quickly.

"Sir Alex Ferguson says a good team, when things go wrong, responds immediately. Man United responded by winning 4-1. We've got to try to respond. I'm not saying we'll win 4-0 against Barnsley but if we win then it puts the doubts in everybody's minds to rest and we can move forward.

"If we don't win, the pressure gets even greater."

Presumably you have been identifying targets to try to sign when the transfer window opens in January?

"I've got about 25 names on my pad already, so they're all flooding in from the agents about what is available. What is important is to sift through the information that we have and try to make the right choices as soon as we possibly can and bring the right players in in January.

"We're still obviously light in the central defensive position and we're very fortunate that James Tomkins and Abdoulaye Faye have been able to play the last six games with no cover and get through it.

"Had we not had those two, it might have been worse, because if you lose key players the results get worse. Look at what has happened to Newcastle all of a sudden - they were top of the league because their back five was the same every single game. Now all of a sudden it's not and they can't win a game. That's the difference it makes for you.

"What we've done is been very good at covering up injuries with players who have stepped in and kept the team as strong as it was. That's getting towards the end of its life now. We need as many players back, fit and raring to go as we can."