Sam Allardyce re-affirmed the trust he has in his West Ham United squad during his pre-match media conference for Saturday's away game at Leeds United.
The West Ham United manager is confident the team have prepared well for the trip to Yorkshire as the Hammers look to extend their unbeaten run to eight games. Joey O'Brien's expected return should make that task easier but Big Sam will be forced to shuffle his pack with Ricardo Vaz Te, Winston Reid, Papa Bouba Diop, Julien Faubert and Guy Demel all likely to miss the Elland Road clash through injury.
Any injury news ahead of Saturday?
Only Joey O'Brien will make it back into the squad for Leeds. Papa Bouba Diop, Ricardo Vaz Te and Winston Reid won't make it. It's a few too many and it's unfortunate but it's something we all have to deal with throughout the season.
You spoke earlier in the week about getting up early on matchdays. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
SA: Its nothing to do with the position we are in at the moment, it's something I've always done as a manager. My life as a manager has never been different; I always wake up early on a matchday and pray the phone doesn't ring because if it does then it's normally bad news like someone has fallen ill during the night. All I can do is hope the players deliver the type performance that we have worked hard towards throughout the week. I know we have done the proper and correct preparation; it is just about making sure it all comes together on the day itself.
What are your thoughts on West Ham's form at present?
SA: Defeats give me sleepless nights but draws, although they are not what we want, they are points gained and that is only good for us. We are undefeated in seven and our position at this stage of the season is very good. We know we have missed a chance in improving that but we can't have the negativity that is going around at the moment. We are third in the league at the moment with a game in hand on both Southampton and Reading and if we win it we go joint top only behind Southampton on goal difference. We have to deal with negativity and turn it into positive energy.
You now have four games in 14 days, two of which are on Tuesday evenings. It's a tough period for you isn't it?
SA: Tuesday evenings seem to have become an Achilles heel for us during the season there's no doubt about that. We have been incapable of producing a result, not a performance, and that is of great concern to us going into this important period of the season. I have spoken with the lads about it and have said we need to have a better attitude and mental state going into these games to make sure we deliver the goods.
We have played some good football at times, against Bristol City for example when we just couldn't find a winner. This was the same with Watford; it's as frustrating for us as it is the fans. We have had a bit of trouble on Tuesday nights so we have to make sure that we improve our mid-week results starting at home on Tuesday.
Why are Tuesday nights a problem do you think?
SA: It's a tough effort for the players I think playing three games in a week. I've tried playing the same team, tried different routines during the recovery periods and tried rotating the squad but the results still haven't been what we expected. Hopefully we can change this now as we are coming into the crunch time of the season.
Would you say it was two from West Ham, Southampton and Reading for the automatic promotion spots?
SA: You never know, there are 15 games to go and a lot of points to play for. Nobody in their right mind would have said Reading 12 games ago would be second from top so somebody else could embark on a type of run like they have. Birmingham have fallen away as have Hull and Blackpool but it could be one of those that begin to pick up the points again and make a big push. It's only been us and Southampton that have been in and around the top 2 all season long. Us and Southampton have been the most consistent sides this season but it's important to have a strong finish.
Any chance the team that goes on an unbeaten run could be Leeds?
SA: There is every chance yes, especially with the experienced Neil Warnock as manager now. Neil has seen and done it all and knows what a team needs to go on a run like Reading's and he will be looking to do that with Leeds having won his first game on Sunday at Middlesbrough.
Neil Warnock is a manager you know well. What do you make of the job he has done at Leeds so far?
SA: He will have been really disappointed not to have had a longer spell at QPR to get them right in the Premier League but he is at a fantastic club now where he can aim for yet another promotion. It will be a very interesting game on Saturday as he has sorted out Leeds main problem of conceding silly goals. Neil has put those defensive errors right and it makes Leeds that much more difficult to beat. Let's hope we can achieve that on Saturday.