Big Sam on Nottingham Forest

Sam Allardyce was in upbeat mood as he faced the media before Saturday's npower Championship visit of Nottingham Forest.

Not only do his side have the incentive of moving into top spot of the npower Championship with a win or draw from the match, but his squad is near to full fitness once again as both Matt Taylor and Guy Demel both trained fully on Friday.

Although the duo will not be ready for action against Steve Cotterill's side, their involvement in training has given the West Ham United manager a further boost ahead of what he thinks could be a tricky game at the Boleyn Ground.

How important was the victory at Portsmouth on Saturday?

It was important because it kept us in touch wtih Southampton. It increased the points tally ahead of the two teams that slipped up below us in Middlesbrough and Cardiff. That is then significant in terms of the points total that is between us and third and the fact we have stayed on level points with Southampton. Then the extra spur this week is that if we win we can go top for the first time this season be it maybe only for a short stay as Southampton play on Monday. Let's make sure we achieve that goal and let's get those very valuable three points again here at Upton Park.

You had a difficult time over Christmas. Do you feel that is behind you now?

It is from an injury point of view. There are players still tentatively coming back who are not quite at their 100 per cent game performance but that will come over the next few weeks. I think, particularly when we run into the back end of February and early March, the games are going to come very quickly. That is when we will need the full value of the squad to come to fruition and make sure we get as many points as we can.

How tough will Forest be? Will it be a battle?

They are on a poor run of results. We know that I have been complaining about our lack of goals but their lack of goals is far greater than ours at the moment. I saw them on Tuesday night against Leicester in the cup and at half-time it should have been 2-2 - they had two of the best chances in the game and didn't convert them. Eventually they will convert them but we want to make sure it is not against us and we keep them away from our goal as much as possible and then try and expose them. They might have a little bit of a lack of confidence and we have to try and take advantage. We cannot take them for granted and we must be at our best as always to win any game of football in the Championship.

The transfer window has been slow so far. Any updates?

SA: No, nothing in the offing at the moment as hard as we are trying at this time and in previous weeks. We always seem to run into a dead end based on many different factors of why we can't find the player we are looking for. Either the player doesn't want to come or the club doesn't want to sell him or the fee of the player is too high or the loan agreement is not quite what they want. There are so many different reasons for not acquiring what we are looking for, so it has been exceedingly more difficult than I expected it to be.

Are you looking for another striker?

The good thing for us is that we are the strongest we have been for probably 12 weeks or so. Even today, even though not available for selection on Saturday, Guy Demel and Matt Taylor trained fully with the first-team squad for the first time in a while, particularly Guy. He has only made one appearance in the first team at Middlesbrough and one short appearance at Reading and we haven't seen a lot of his talent. The good thing is he has not been asked to go to the African Nations Cup because of his injury problems which means he can break in as quickly as possible.

Matt has suffered from various calf problems which wasn't the real problem - that lay in another area of his body. We seem to have cured that now and he will be back with us very shortly. We have a good strong squad and like I have said for a few games, the only problem we have at the moment is putting the ball in the back of the net. We have still won games in the last few matches but it does concern me that when the chances are created, we are not converting enough.

Have you made any big-money bids and are any deals closer?

SA: At this moment in time, no. I think that as a football club the Joint-Chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold cannot do any more than they have done to help us with another player in that department. We can't pay silly money and we are already bidding the sort of money that is extremely high for the division we are in. I have obviously great faith that we will keep trying and get someone by the end of this window. We are doing our very best, none more so than our Joint-Chairmen. Even though we haven't pulled one off yet, I can only thank them for how hard they have tried and how well they have backed it.

You have bought in George John and Joe Dixon in the past week. What are your thoughts about them?

SA: Joe is one who has not been involved in too much football recently so that is for way down the line and more the future than now. George is obviously to make sure we don't suffer any more of the defensive problems we had in November and December. We were playing a 17-year-old at left-back, a left-back at centre-half and a centre-midfiled player at right back in one game. It is to cover that side of our squad.