Manager on Monday

It may be the international break but there will be no let up for Sam Allardyce as he looks for a possible defensive addition to his in-form squad.

The Hammers are on a roll with three wins and a draw from their last four outings, with Saturday's 2-0 success at Hull City perhaps the most notable given the opposition's home form this season.

The team were firing up front, with Sam Baldock and Jack Collison grabbing the goals that underlined the team's attacking and creative potential from set-pieces and open play, even without the injured trio of David Bentley, Henri Lansbury and Matt Taylor.

However, with Winston Reid (shoulder) also absent along with Joey O'Brien and Guy Demel (both hamstring), the manager knows defensive reinforcements are required.

"My main priority is to find a central defender to loan for the next two or three months. Abdoulaye Faye and James Tomkins were outstanding [at Hull] but they were the only two defenders we have at the club at the moment. I have to fill that position and help us carry on this great run of results that we are on."

The break for internationals until the trip to Coventry City on Saturday week will also afford the medical staff the chance to work overtime on the absentees. O'Brien and Demel could both be in contention for the Ricoh Stadium awayday, while it is hoped that Taylor may also have recovered from his troublesome calf.

"The results have shown the quality in the squad is good enough but the depth of it is the problem. The two-week break is at the right time for us. We don't have many players away which is a blessing and we should get some of our injured players back in the squad to help us restart the league."


The Hull win owed much to Robert Green and Carlton Cole, with both having recently left the treatment table after their own knee concerns. The manager felt that, in Green's case, he was actually playing with more freedom and mental strength than he was before his operation at the end of September.

"He has recovered two weeks ahead of schedule and he feels brilliant. There is a real spring in his step by how comfortable he feels after the operation. Mentally he feels so much better about the knee than he did before he had the operation so that is a massive plus for any player when they have to go under the surgeon and come back feeling miles better.

"It is just the curing of his knee. He has a fantastic goalkeeping coach. I have had a few in my time and Martyn Margetson's dedication to the job means he covers every little angle and every little thing a goalkeeper needs to cover from positioning, to how to deal with crosses to where your hands and feet should be.

"He has got the great support there that's always needed for a goalkeeper and a real good defence in front of him that means when he is called upon it is only now and then. He is not being bombarded on a regular basis like he was before. Robert calculated that he had 19 shots per game at him last season."

Similarly, Cole's return after a five-game return was to be critical. The manager changed things at half-time to ensure more mobility up front, as well as putting Papa Bouba Diop in a conventional holding role, shifting Kevin Nolan into a deeper-lying position to wrest control of the game and giving Mark Noble more licence to play balls into the front three.

"Carlton's movement was the key element while Sam Baldock sniffs out chances and spaces. We can change it around and mix it up [with our strikers]. That is very important for me to sit on the bench and make my mind up that I was going to put in Carlton at half-time. It is always important to have a strong bench that you know you can make the team better.

"I didn't think we were getting enough movement on the frontline so we changed the shape of midfield. We dropped Nobby deeper, put Papa in front of the back four, pushed Mark Noble up, put Carlton on and said 'Let's control midfield'.

"That first ten-15 minutes in the second half won us the game because we controlled the game. We started off from the very first whistle, got the opposition on the back foot, punished them severely on the corner. We went on to get the next one and when we did we did it with our best move of the game and our best finish.

"As a group of players they knew that more goals would be nice but as long as Hull don't get one we knew that's three points in the bag. It was a very precious three points after our great performance but disappointing result on Tuesday [against Bristol City]."