Copenhagen challenge excites Sam

West Ham United have had a productive morning's work ahead of Wednesday's high-profile friendly against FC Copenhagen.

After breakfast at the team hotel, the 18-man Hammers squad travelled to Nummer 10, the training base of their Danish hosts in Fredriksberg, and were put through their paces by Wally Downes, Neil McDonald and Sam Allardyce.

The players, who were greeted by members of the FCK youth team when they arrived, performed a number of drills with the emphasis on speed and ball work. It was a muggy morning in the Danish capital but the work-rate was high and the players were kept on their toes throughout.

The manager frequently stopped proceedings to speak to his players, whether collectively or individually, and was central throughout the session. The final stage of the practice saw Frederic Piquionne and Frank Nouble working on shooting, the youngsters doing defending-attacking exercises with Downes, and a crucial warm-down under the watchful eye of the medical staff.

After an hour, it was time to get back on the bus for the short ride back to the hotel. The squad were then to have a light lunch before a few hours' rest ahead of the big game.

Allardyce, in particular, is relishing the prospect of a tricky test against a side who will face Shamrock Rovers in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round next week.

"It is the quality of game we were looking for at this stage of the season," Allardyce told West Ham TV. "We are going to play against a very good side in a good stadium with a good surface. It will give me a good indication of the quality we have at the club.

"The game tonight is very important to identify where our strengths and weaknesses are."

The manager is expected to field a strong side and he explained he had left some first-teamers behind including Abdoulaye Faye, Junior Stanislas and Carlton Cole to work on their fitness over five full days ahead of the weekend match at Wycombe Wanderers.

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