Big Sam on Sunderland

Sam Allardyce wants West Ham United to extend their unbeaten start to 2013 when they travel to Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.

The Hammers opened the New Year by overcoming Norwich City 2-1 before holding Manchester United to a thrilling 2-2 FA Cup with Budweiser third-round draw at the Boleyn Ground last weekend.

Now, Big Sam is hoping his team can overcome the absence of a number of important players through injury by scoring a positive result against Martin O'Neill's men at the Stadium of Light.

Sam, could you start by giving us your team news ahead of Saturday's trip to the Stadium of Light?

SA: "We've got the same squad as last week and we've added Marouane Chamakh on loan from Arsenal, who we obviously hope will play a big part in us getting some good results between now and the end of the season. He is also cover for Modibo Maiga, who went off to the Africa Cup of Nations last week. Other than that, we've got the same squad as Andy Carroll, George McCartney, Mo Diame and Joey O'Brien are not fit yet. Dan Potts is with us and he did a great job last week and hopefully he'll continue in that position, continue to improve and perform as he did against Manchester United."

How much longer do you expect Andy to be out for?

SA: "It's difficult to put an actual timescale on it. I would expect it would be no longer than a couple of weeks now. He is doing some straight-line running and has been doing that for a few days. If he doesn't feel anything, then we'll progress onto interval running and some change of direction work and then introduce the ball. Then, he'll hopefully come back with the other players as quickly as possible. It could be a few days or it could be a bit longer than that, depending on his progression. We're assessing him day-by-day now."

What do you expect Marouane Chamakh to contribute to the cause?

SA: "We have got a lot of games coming up. He won't be able to play in the FA Cup replay at Manchester United because he wasn't registered in time for the first game. From there on and from this Saturday, he'll be available."

How will you manage Joe Cole's workload between now and the end of the season?

SA: "We will take it game-by-game. Part of every manager's job is managing players for their sake. It's not always about joining in training every day and every week for me, and it hasn't been for many years for me. Lots of players don't come together in the squad until Thursday and Friday and then play on the Saturday because they need to do other things during the week to maintain their level of fitness. I have a prevention policy rather than a cure policy which has obviously been tested to the hilt recently with the number of injuries we've had. Saying that, they have been more trauma injuries than muscle tears, so we'll do what is needed with Joe as we do with many players."

Do you have a message for Joint-Chairman David Gold, who has been taken ill this week?

SA: "All the players wish him well. We found out on Wednesday that he is poorly so we'll get a message to him and we obviously wish him a speedy recovery."

The transfer window is open. What can you update us on in terms of possible targets?

SA: "In terms as what we're doing at the moment, we're as active as everyone else. If there is a player there who we feel will improve the squad, we'll try to move for him. If I was strengthening anywhere at the moment, it would be in the left-back position because of our injury problems in that area. We're only looking at that position at the minute."

Are you surprised with how Sunderland have performed this season?

SA: "I don't know why they haven't kicked on after last season, but I do know they have improved over Christmas and that has given their team a lot more confidence. It has been results rather than performances that have not come because they have not converted the chances they have created. They have not got too many goalscorers apart from Steven Fletcher and they have sort of paid a price for that in result terms. Performances, particularly at home, have been very good according to our reports, so it'll be a tough game away from home. We want to play as well as we did against Manchester United to achieve a result at Sunderland - anything less than that will make it difficult for us."

Steven Fletcher has been a success story for Sunderland since joining them last summer. What have you made of his impact?

SA: "He's been tremendous. When you see where Sunderland would be if he hadn't scored the goals he scored, his goals have been like gold in terms of the results they have brought Sunderland this season. Without those goals, they'd have struggled more than they already have. The importance of a goalscorer is massive. If you've got that goalscorer, then it's a massive bonus for you."

Finally, you have started 2013 well. Are you happy with how things are going?

SA: "I'm happy that we've recovered well from a disappointing Christmas based on results and the loss of lots of players to injury, which has made life difficult for us. I think we've performed exceptionally well against Norwich and Manchester United in our last two games, so I hope we will continue to produce displays like that on a consistent basis in the New Year."