Big Sam considers options

Sam Allardyce has his squad in line for a weekend of hard work ahead of the big trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday night.

The manager's main task will be to ensure the Hammers can bounce back on the road as they have on the two other occasions they have tasted league defeat this season. The narrow home reverses against Cardiff City and Ipswich Town were followed by a win at Doncaster Rovers and a draw at Crystal Palace respectively.

Complicating matters is a mounting casualty list, with Big Sam having lost Matt Taylor (calf) and Henri Lansbury (knee) from the team that lost 1-0 at Southampton last Tuesday. James Tomkins (groin) and Carlton Cole (knee) also look unlikely to return, while Robert Green, after his late September knee surgery, and the yet to figure Guy Demel are also not in contention.

It means Joey O'Brien, Mark Noble, Jack Collison and Freddie Sears could all be considered for a return to the first eleven.

"Our injury list has escalated in the last couple of games quite dramatically," said the manager. "From Tuesday, we have got Matt Taylor who came off and won't be fit for Brighton but the biggest blow is Henri Lansbury who damaged his knee quite severely.

"It is not season ending but certainly a couple of months at the best, we think. That is a great blow for us on top of the fact we have lost David Bentley [for the season]. James Tomkins is struggling and so is Carlton Cole."

The manager is ready to look at the loan market again, and is considering out-of-contract winger El Hadji Diouf who has been pondering his options since leaving Rangers as a double-winner last season. There are other possibilities with the manager focused on the need to push for promotion.

"El Hadji is one on our list. We are now scouring the country for what players might be available for loan or are not fixed up. El Hadji hasn't been fixed up so I have invited him for training and will have a good look at him.

"I know what he is capable of and that he can deliver. There are other options we are looking at on loan from other clubs but they are few and far between now because they have been taken by other clubs.

"It is going to be pretty difficult, but we will have a go at that. Knowing someone like Dioufy, I just have to let him get fit and see if he looks in good condition when he trains with us.

"If there was anything we were lacking at Southampton it was the final ball to open up the opposition and allow goalscoring chances.

"We did create opportunities but we didn't produce the sort of quality we really needed. We are having to test the squad to its full potential now."

The manager acknowledged that he had ten players out on loan but believed they were still better off gaining first team experience in the short-term with all virtually guaranteed 90 minutes every week. He will continue to gauge his options and is determined that whoever wears the shirt at Brighton on Monday gives all they can.

"We have really made a massive transition in the football club. We are only reasonably satisfied with where we are and I know that we are second and doing OK but I have a greater demand on the players to be more consistent."