Big Sam on Friday

Sam Allardyce is relishing the prospect of having a selection headache for Saturday's Kids for a Quid visit of Portsmouth to the Boleyn Ground.

The manager has plenty of players to choose from with a virtually fully-fit squad bolstered by the arrival since the last league match of Guy Demel, Papa Bouba Diop, Henri Lansbury, David Bentley and Sam Baldock, while Abdoulaye Faye and John Carew are also eager to be involved.

Scott Parker and Junior Stanislas have left with the club's best wishes while the manager has been boosted by the return of Robert Green to training after a finger injury cost him the chance of an international call.

How is the squad looking post the transfer window?

SA: We did some tremendous business on the final day of the transfer window and just before that. We have bolstered the quality and depth of our squad, which for me was very important. We have a tough 46- game season and I mentioned before that of all the teams that have won automatic promotion in the past have used at least 29 players and at the most 33.

We really look forward now to Papa, David, Guy, Sam and Henri making their contribution to the players we already have and the other players we have brought in this season. For me the quality of the squad has increased. We have lost Scott Parker of course, but I think these players brought in, will bring another dimension to the squad, it gives me alternatives on a week to week basis. It keeps the rest of the players firmly on their toes.

You have been listening to Fabio Capello talking about the young generation coming in and the fact that no one can be guaranteed a place anymore and that is exactly what I want at West Ham.

Everyone needs to be looking over their shoulder and find that there is a man challenging for his place in that particular department. Other than that, it is about settling them in and bedding them and then getting the best out of them.

I don't think there are any problems with our international players, I think Jack is all right after his game for Wales against England yesterday and John Carew is OK.
We didn't have as many international players away as I thought we would so the rest of the group have been together and integrated a little bit more and of course enjoyed the fantastic win away to Forest.

Are you considering giving debuts to any of the new faces?

SA: There are some that will need settling in, rather than throwing them in the deep end and that really only happens when you are desperate. Of course, after the fantastic victory at Forest we are not desperate.

Some will have to sit and be patient about getting their start but it also depends on the fatigue of the lads on international duty. I will be making decisions in the next couple of days to try and pick the right team to beat Portsmouth at home.

How important was it for you to hang on to Carlton Cole and have the transfer window closed?

SA: From my point of view the one magnificent piece of news is the transfer window is shut. We had the very upsetting hiccup by this bizarre allowance of Turkish teams to have an extra period in the window which came with a bid for Carlton Cole. Having suffered the trials and tribulations that we all suffered up to 31 August we were finally pleased it was shut. And then we had a cheeky bid for Carlton! I am glad to say we ignored it and Carlton is still with us.

What are your thoughts on the departure of Scott Parker?

SA: We are all satisfied with the outcome in the end. It was a long drawn out affair as always but in the end we delivered to Scott what he wanted. We got what we were looking for out of it and on the back of that we replaced him with four players. The important thing is he is difficult to replace but when you have replaced one player with four it shows you the commitment and the depths we are trying to get to win this club promotion as soon as possible.

We are on track for the two points a game mark required for promotion but how important is Saturday to get our first home win if we can?

SA: Yes we are well on course and I think our main aim is to begin on Saturday to produce a home victory and then that is our big pressure now. Can we live with that pressure, can we accept that and go on to produce the top performance needed to get that win? We want to put a victory in place and settle everyone down at home at Upton Park.

That is the big question of the players. It has been very disappointing in terms of home results, not the performances. In reverse, we have been so exciting away from home, scoring nine goals and only conceding two.

So now we have to convert that into our home form and playing in our home ground, make our home a fortress. We have to do that by winning football matches - makes the opposition fearful of coming here, coming to Upton Park and the fans very excited and looking forward to coming and supporting us.

It is Kids for a Quid on Saturday. What are your thoughts on that?

SA: Well I love that support from the owners, when you can look at the economic climate and come and enjoy a game of football for a pound with your son or daughter. I think a bus or the train fare costs more these days so this increasing the West Ham support and the future support.

It is a fantastic gesture. I hope we can repay everybody that comes along on Saturday by giving them a victory.

You know some of the Portsmouth players personally from previous jobs. What are your thoughts on your opponents?

SA: Yes I do know many of them and I know Steve Cotterill for a long time as well. He has worked very hard as a manager over the years to progress his own career and of course under very difficult circumstances at Portsmouth. He has worked hard to turn it into a positive environment from a negative one.

I am under no illusions that it is going to be a very tough game, of course I know some of the players, particularly Tal Ben Haim, whom I introduced into this country at Bolton a few years back. It will be good to see him but I hope he is very miserable at the end.