Manager on Monday

West Ham United may have had a weekend with no game but there was plenty of hard work going on behind the scenes at Chadwell Heath.

Sam Allardyce and his first-team squad were putting in the tough yards at the club's training ground in preparation for Monday evening's penultimate npower Championship fixture at Leicester City. Despite there being no match, the weekend was a good one for the Hammers as promotion rivals Southampton lost 2-1 to Middlesbrough on Saturday evening to maintain the east London side's outside chance of automatic promotion.

"Yes, we are still in with a shout," Big Sam said. "We have to take the chance now by going to Leicester and trying to go all out to win that game so we can keep the door slightly ajar.

"There is nothing more we would like to do than win at Leicester and take it to Upton Park for the last game of the season. Given the gap between us and Southampton, we hope we can win that game and then Southampton slip up again in some way, shape or form.

"There is still a little light at the end of the tunnel."

Leicester sit tenth in the Championship table and a win on Monday could take them above Brighton & Hove Albion into ninth. Although they are out of the promotion race, Big Sam knows the Foxes will still be keen to sign off their last home game of the season with a win.

"Leicester are a fantastic side at home and I know Nigel Pearson well and I know his team will be up to try and beat us like every team is. We have been the big boys in this league this year and everybody had produced performances against us and we have always had to try and produce our best in nearly every game to try and win it.

"I think that Monday night will be exactly the same. From our point of view we will be trying to keep up our fantastic away record. We are in very good form at the moment and were extremely unlucky not to beat Bristol City and get even closer.

"If we play as well as that and create as many chances then we have to make sure we put them in the back of the net."

Carlton Cole could come back into contention after missing the 1-1 draw at Bristol City with a knee injury, while Julien Faubert and Gary O'Neil could also make welcome returns to the starting XI. It remains to be seen whether full-backs George McCartney and Joey O'Brien and forward Sam Baldock will return from injury and striker Nicky Maynard is also a doubt after injuring his ankle at Ashton Gate.

"It is unfortunate that Nicky twisted an ankle against Bristol City, I am not so sure how good that is. Carlton missed that game against Bristol because of a fluid on the knee.

"So my major concern is the firepower not being available for us for such a big game. So we will have to see how they are on Monday then make a decision. I am not sure if either of them will come through for Monday, but we have to try our best and see where we go."

If Maynard and Cole do not make it, then Big Sam will need to decide on whether to use Sam Baldock or John Carew or push the in-form Ricardo Vaz Te into a more advanced role.

"Ricardo has slightly surprised me on the amount of goals he has scored - I always knew he was a talented player from the early days when I had him at Bolton. He was just a young lad of 16 then.

"I think what he has shown is his ability on a consistent basis. It was just what we needed at that particular time, we were floundering a bit in the scoring goals sense in January onwards and we were sort of getting away with it, by living off set-pieces, off midfield players and defenders scoring goals.

"Finally it caught up with us a bit but Vaz has changed that around by starting to produce the goals that we needed in order to be a top-two team. Carlton is also back in goalscoring form now. That has really been our Achilles heel this year, so we need him and all of them to continue in that vein of form."

Of course if West Ham do prevail at the King Power Stadium on Monday, they must still beat Hull City in the Season Finale on Saturday to stand any chance of snatching second spot from Southampton. The Saints, who play host Coventry City on the same day, are currently five points clear but Big Sam says the focus must remain on extending West Ham's record of away wins to 13 in the east Midlands on Monday night.

"The odds are still fully in Southampton's favour. They have had a fantastic season and have a fantastic home record at St Mary's and so I wouldn't expect anything untoward would happen. All we can do is try and win a game of football and the most important thing for us is to try and beat Leicester and not let Southampton off the hook."

Hull City

There has been a surge for tickets for Saturday's Season Finale against Hull City following the weekend's results and Big Sam feels that regardless of whether it is a promotion party or preparation for the Play-Offs, it's vital that West Ham United sign off their league campaign with a win.

"To try and keep our glimmering hope still alive, we want to go and enjoy the game against Leicester and try to win it to then build up to next week and finish on a high against Hull City. No matter what, if we beat Hull City, we finish on a high for the season. It will either be one hell of a celebration or we will be getting focused on getting ready for the play-offs."

The Saints' defeat on Saturday meant Reading sealed the Championship title after an incredible run of results. Big Sam was quick to congratulate Brian McDermott and his staff for their remarkable achievement.

"To get to where they have from where they were has taken an unbelievable and outstanding season. To manage to achieve so many wins in such a long period of time is the key to their success.

"That is fantastic - congratulations to them, to Brian and all his staff - it has been a real journey for them."