Forward thinking for Avram

Avram Grant is looking forward to locking horns with Ian Holloway this evening in the return to Barclays Premier League action at Blackpool.

In describing his opposite number as the "manager of the season", he paid tribute to the way the newcomers have taken to top-flight football. "Blackpool are a very good team, one of the best stories of the season," he said. 

"They have performed miracles this season when everyone was saying they would be on a short way to the Championship. I like the way they play football"

The manager also believed Blackpool would not be fazed by the transfer window speculation over talisman Charlie Adam - citing his own experience earlier in the campaign. "We had a similar situation at the beginning of the season when everyone was talking about Scott Parker until the last minute of the transfer window"

Going into tonight, the manager could hand three players their league debuts in Gary O'Neil, Demba Ba and Robbie Keane - while he has plenty of options elsewhere. On the training ground, Manuel da Costa and Thomas Hitzlsperger are also close to returning.

"I was always a fan of players with character, because in the end of the day you need these type of players to win games. Robbie is a good character, you can see on his games before and even in training with us, he's an intelligent player, so I am sure he will be very good for us.

"The new players have integrated very well. We are playing in a system that is good for them as our style of football. They like to play the way that we play so it feels like they have been here a long time already."

More than 1,500 die-hard Hammers fans will make the trip to the north-west and Grant said the team would be giving their all.

"We need to continue to play as we did in the last matches and pick points as we did more or less in the last months. We played against teams that were around us, we won those matches and we played well.

"We have never looked for excuses, even before. We had some issues that we need to deal with but personally I have never been busy with excuses - only in what I need to do."