Allardyce takes the positives

Sam Allardyce was satisfied with a good afternoon's work as West Ham United kept a third successive clean sheet with a goalless draw away to Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.

The manager travelled round the M25 to Adams Park without five players but was still able to field a strong lineup that included first summer starts for Pablo Barrera and Carlton Cole. Winston Reid, Jack Collison and Freddie Sears were all feeling the effects of their midweek exertions in Copenhagen while Abdoulaye Faye (hamstring) and Junior Stanislas (groin) also missed out.

While he confirmed that Mark Noble was withdrawn from the bench as a precaution after feeling his hamstring in the warm-up, another absentee for different reasons was Matt Taylor. The midfielder only completed his move to the Boleyn earlier in the day.

Allardyce said he expected the 29-year-old to make his debut away to Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday night. He was delighted to have secured his third summer signing after Faye and new captain Kevin Nolan.


"I have known Matt for a long time in the Premier League," Allardyce said. "I have been there watching him develop for from the early days when he was at Luton and then moving onwards and upwards.

"[The deal] shows our desire to get a group of players together that want to get us back in the Premier league as quickly as possible and hopefully this season. He is the second player we have persuaded to step down from the Premier League.

"That is a great credit to everyone at West Ham from the owners and the board down to the staff. It is about the club itself being big enough for them to come down and want to play football and try and get us back in the Premier League."

The manager believed that if retains the services of Robert Green, Scott Parker and Cole he might only need three more new faces but admitted that another experienced striker and a left-back to compete with Herita Ilunga were priorities.

Of the Wycombe draw, Allardyce believed his men needed to improve on their finishing, having created several good opportunities only to see them spurned. "All the players that played did their job. We are just a little disappointed we didn't win," he confirmed.

He was pleased to see Cole get an hour under his belt, while he also had words of praise for the youngsters including Frank Nouble, who came close to snatching a win with a late header just over the bar.

Fitness not results is his main concern at the moment, and he is mindful that the team only have that Daggers test and then the visit of Real Zaragoza on Saturday before the visit of Cardiff City in a fortnight's time gets the npower Championship under way.

"Some of the players are a little behind on match fitnes, they are not quite as good as I would have expected them to be now. In saying that, experience tells me I have been moaning about that every season I have been managing. It is not unusual for me to say that.

"All that matters is that on 7 August, we are ready to compete against Cardiff at the level we need to and we are all in a position to know what is expected of us as a team and as individuals. The opportunity to get off to a good start is imperative when you are trying to fight your way back to the Premier League."

* A Hammers XI went down 3-0 away to Weymouth Town's first team on Saturday. Coach Ian Hendon said: "It was a tough match. We had a very young team out against a more experienced side. You often learn more in games like this than you do in games where everything goes right. It is early days and we can learn from this."

The Hammers starting eleven was Stech, Sanchez, McCallum, McNaughton, Driver, Lee, Abdulla, Moncur, Hall, Lletget and a triallist.

The remaining development squad fixtures are as follows:

*Friday 29 July, Ebbsfleet United v West Ham United XI, Stonebridge Road, 7.45pm
*Tuesday 2 August, Sutton United v West Ham United XI, Ganders Green Lane, 7.45pm
*Thursday 4 August, Grays Athletic v West Ham United XI, 7.45pm
*Saturday 6 August, AFC Hornchurch v West Ham United XI, Bridge Avenue, 3pm