Big Sam on Peterborough

Sam Allardyce has said James Tomkins could be in with a chance of playing against Peterborough United after returning to training following a groin problem.

The news that the SBOBET player of the month was back in action at Chadwell Heath after limping off in last Saturday's goalless draw at Millwall was the most striking of the manager's pre-match news conference at the Boleyn Ground on Thursday. Big Sam also talked about on his opposite number this Saturday, with Darren Ferguson's famous father such a close friend of the Hammers manager, as he looked forward to trying for a seventh game unbeaten.

What is the team news?

SA: James Tomkins trained this morning and we will have to see what the reaction is between now and Friday. He could well be available for Saturday. We have got a three-game week coming up so we first thought we possibly might have missed him for certainly two games and maybe he would be fit for the Crystal Palace game away [on Saturday week].

It looks like he will be available for selection for all three. We will assess the situation on Friday. We are just waiting for Guy Demel who got a bit of a hamstring in a behind closed doors game so is behind schedule. Papa [Bouba Diop] is improving and will come into the squad sometime next week. He has got his international clearance so we look forward to bringing him into the squad.

David Bentley impressed off the bench at Millwall. Does he give you a major selection dilemma for Saturday?

Yes. He gives me a nice selection scenario. You are constantly looking at the squad and the players available and you are looking at the opposition and then you look forward on what is coming next and what's in front of you. I know generally we say we take it game by game but personally as a manager, I would say you think more like a chess player. You think what's ahead of you as well as that particular match. Next week is a three game week and it will be a squad scenario rather than the same eleven for every single game. Using the squad is imperative in terms of the long haul you've got in trying to achieve what you want to achieve.

Do you feel you can get the best out of David?

He has a point to prove to himself before he proves it to anyone else. If he can recapture the person and the player he was before at Blackburn Rovers, we all know that is huge quality at the Premier League level on a sustained basis. With his ability and at his age, if we can reinvigorate his confidence, you will get the player back.

We live or die as footballers on our mental strength, not so much on our ability. That is the key issue. When that takes a knock continuously, irrespectively of how tough you think you are, you lose your confidence because of it. You know you won't be involved and basically you lose your way. You almost forget about how good it used to be because you never get an opportunity to express yourself and show that ability.

He is a player that needs to play games?

He played so many games for Blackburn when he arrived and was a massive part of Mark Hughes' success story at Blackburn Rovers. Mark and the team he built managed to deliver a real good success story . David was a part of that and got in the England side. He was mooted as the new replacement for David Beckham because he is a similar type of player and then unfortunately the backward step has happened [at Tottenham] and that happens in everybody's career at some stage or another.

Are you tempted by 4-4-2 this weekend with Sam Baldock pushing for a place?

I don't know yet. Somewhere along the line we will get to a 4-4-2, no doubt about that but at the moment we are ticking along very nicely and undefeated with a 4-3-3. It depends how Peterborough play. They are a very attacking-minded and I think actually pack the midfield more with a diamond than a 4-4-2 so I would have to be cautious if I went with that system. We will select the team and what system on Friday.

You are up against a Ferguson in the dug-out. Will it be strange to come up against Sir Alex's son?

SA: I did come up against Darren in the League Cup with Blackburn Rovers. We won that game comfortably because they had a man sent off ... he has experienced a change of football club [with his spell at Preston North End] and I think he will be a much better manager now than when I first met him because he has had the down side for the first time.

He has had the criticism thrown his way about the lack of results - whether it was his fault or not- we all suffer it at some stage and he ended up unfortunately losing his job. He immediately jumped back into the firing line and took Peterborough to promotion via the play-offs with a record number of goals scored. I think they scored 100 goals, so he has good management qualities like his dad and has learned from the bitter experience he had at Preston.

Do you see similarities?

Yes, they are father and son. There are bound to be similarities. It is a very difficult scenario to live with such a famous father in the same trade and I am sure it drives him on to aspire to be as good as he can and as good as his dad would be. I certainly strive to be as good as Sir Alex Ferguson. You should set your standards high and try your best to achieve it. You might not get there but you have to keep driving yourself forward and doing the best you can and keep improving.

It is a big week for the club. You could be top going into the international break?

That is the goal of course. Two home games is going to be a measure of whether we can continue to move forward with home victories. Having beaten Portsmouth in the end and got rid of that little nervous twitch at home, we can move forward in terms of getting positive results against Peterborough and Ipswich. They are two big home games coming up.

It is Kids for a Fiver on Saturday and it will be a big crowd. You are getting bigger crowds than a lot of Premier League teams, has that support surprised you?

No not really. Steve Bruce told me that when he played the last game here for Sunderland last season. Even though West Ham were relegated, 30,000 turned up. That is the measure of the commitment and the loyalty that the West Ham fans have for this football club and all I want to do is try and win as many victories for them that I can possibly can - particularly at Upton Park - so they can go home happy.

What about trialists David Carney and Juca?

They have been released. The squad I have at the moment is good enough and big enough to cope with the demand we have. I am looking forward to continuing to develop those players and settle the new players in so they consistently perform to their best.