Manager on Monday

Sam Allardyce is targeting six of the best as all at West Ham United remain focused on securing promotion to the Premier League.

The Hammers were cheered on superbly by another near sell-out crowd at the Boleyn Ground during Saturday's loss to Reading. Now, with six games to go, everyone at the club will continue to pull together alongside that magnificent support - both home and away - to help the club achieve its goal of promotion this season.

Big Sam believes that while there is still a chance of West Ham overtaking the Royals and leaders Southampton at the summit, they must target maximum points in their remaining games to keep the pressure up. Both of West Ham's rivals at the top have a difficult run of fixtures coming up and the pair meet on 13 April in another crucial game in the run-in.

"You have to take each game at a time and try to win it before moving on to the next one," Big Sam said. "We've had a big disappointment against Reading but the lads have got to pick themselves up and get ready for a critical moment in our season. It's the type of pressure we wanted at the start of the season.

"It's the pressure you need when you're trying to clinch automatic promotion. We've just got to deal with it better than we did against Reading. Mentally we shot ourselves in the foot and physically the team was going to tire a little quicker than the opposition as we played on Tuesday and they had a free week.

"We just have to pick ourselves up, have a good rest as it's been a tough two weeks and then get ready physically for a Friday and Monday double-header."

The Hammers travel to Barnsley for a Good Friday teatime kick-off and then host Birmingham City on Easter Monday looking to bounce straight back from the 4-2 loss in the game with Reading.  Big Sam has stressed that his side must quickly ready themselves for the trip to Oakwell, where they will go into the game knowing a win will secure them a place in the Hammers record books for the most away wins in a season.

"We must go and break the away record and win 12 away in one season, which has never happened before. Then when we get back here against Birmingham, we must use the strength and depth of the squad and see if we can give the fans something that we've all wanted for a long time. Not just a good performance but a win.

"The Reading result was a disappointment as it's not normally how we are and it's happened at the wrong time. We've just got to put it behind us and it's stopped a great run of undefeated games. There are six games to go and try to win. We've left ourselves with that being the only answer to us trying end up in the top two spots now.

"We don't want to rely on too many slip-ups from Southampton or Reading, we want to be winning games of football. We want to make sure if they slip up we'll be straight back in there."

West Ham had come out of the blocks strongly on Saturday and quickly took the lead through Carlton Cole. Two quickfire goals from Reading put the visitors ahead at the break, however, and they strengthened their grip with two more after the break with a Ricardo Vaz Te adding a second for the hosts in between.

Defensive solidity is something that West Ham have been able to rely on regularly this season, but a series of individual slip-ups at the back cost them dear.

"Reading knew there was more pressure on us to play well and win, but I thought we handled that really well. What you can't do is slip up like we did. If you make mistakes like we did then opposition teams will punish you.

"I don't mind losing a game when the opposition creates and then put the ball in the net, but I've looked at the four goals and they weren't good from our point of view."

Although the treatment room has cleared with Papa Bouba Diop, Guy Demel and Winston Reid all back in full training, Mark Noble's forced substitution at half-time on Saturday with a thigh injury could see him ruled out for a few weeks.

"It looks like Mark has strained a thigh muscle so it depends how bad it is. It is unlikely we'll see him for the next two matches. If we're lucky he might make the next one, if we're unlucky then we'll have to see how deep the injury is in the thigh muscle when he has it scanned.

"We hope it's not serious as Mark is one of our key players."

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