Sunday service fires imagination

Avram Grant will head to Stoke for their FA Cup quarter-final looking to guide West Ham United to four successive wins for the first time since May 2007.

More than 4,500 fans will follow the Hammers to the Sunday afternoon showdown, with eleven coaches alone leaving from the Boleyn Ground early in the morning.

All will travel hoping the team can emulate the quartet of successive victories that came at the end of the 'great escape' season of 2006/07 - and in turn book a Wembley semi-final next month.

Certainly the manager was delighted but not surprised by the level of Britannia backing his men will have on Sunday.

"It is a big thing. It was like this at West Brom. It was amazing and it helped the players especially after we scored the first goal and it is a very good feeling to see so many supporters coming and behind us."

The feelgood factor around the club has been furthered by a positive break in Portugal this week for the whole squad, with 17-year-old Dylan Tombides providing the only sour note for the manager during a break from training.

"I played table tennis. I was good! I lost only to one player, a young one. Dylan Tombides has no respect. No respect to the manager. I beat the others and not only because they all want to be in the team this weekend!"

That competition for places on Sunday has been prompted by a fully-fit squad with everyone bar hernia victim Junior Stanislas hoping to catch Grant's eye. All are up for the cup.

"The players were very happy to be together, for the training and everything. They had free time but the most important thing was that they were there as a team."

After last week's 3-0 home league win against Stoke, the manager said he would once more be looking to impose his own methods on the opposition - rather than worry about their gameplan.

"I like our style. I know many people speak against their style but I'm not a judge to other people. I must tell you Tony Pulis before he took them they were not a team in the Premier League. Now they are in the Premier League and he has done the best for them so you must respect this.

"It looks like it was easy last week but it wasn't. They are very organised and aggressive. It is a good challenge and always when you play at pitches like the Britannia it is a good challenge as you are playing against a team that is very comfortable at home.

"I am sure that it will be a different game as they are playing different at home. I think also the game will start 0-0 and they will try to win. It will difficult. Their record is better. They are more confident at home."