Big Sam on: Fulham

Sam Allardyce is pleased to have added to his defensive options ahead of Wednesday's Barclays Premier League meeting with London rivals Fulham.

The Hammers completed the loan signing of Wolfsburg defender Emanuel Pogatetz on Monday and Big Sam says the ex-Middlesbrough man could be in line for a quick debut at Craven Cottage. He also revealed that Andy Carroll is in contention after taking part in training this week.

Sam, could you talk us through the team news for Wednesday night?

SA: "We've signed Emanuel Pogatetz on loan from Wolfsburg and I'm pleased to have him, because we've had defensive problems - particularly as the loss of James Collins and George McCartney [to injury] leaves us short at the moment. He's an experienced defender, both in Germany and of course at Middlesbrough. It gives us a bit more opportunity in defensive terms where we are short on players at this moment in time.

"We're still waiting on Andy Carroll, whether we think it's right to add him to the squad because he's only had two days training with us, in terms of joining in with the players having not played for a number of weeks. We don't know whether that'll be too risky and we'll make the choice later on Tuesday. The rest of the squad stays the same. It's quite good at the moment, and it's quite strong, and we have to play to our best to start getting some points on the board.

"The biggest message is to play better than we have been away from home. We haven't been able to secure a clean sheet for an awful long time. That and the shortage of goals particularly away from home - we've got to improve all of that.

"We've got the players available, we know what the players are capable of. They've proven that they can perform and they've got to get to that level of performance again. It's two massive games in terms of Wednesday and Saturday coming up. It's two massive efforts from the players [we need] to establish their position in the Barclays Premier League, and to secure the points in both the games. I'm not saying win both, we'd love to win both, but certainly to come out the back of the next two games undefeated. As always you're trying to win a football match when you start and if we can do that then that would be great. Put points on the board in both games - that's the important thing for us."

You've signed Emanuel Pogatetz. Is there a chance that he could make his debut?

SA: "He comes straight into the squad. He's said he's fully fit and ready to go. He's had a winter break as they do in Germany but he's been training every day and has been available every day for Wolfsburg. He's said he's ready to go straight in and of course he does have some experience in the Premier League. Hopefully that'll stand him in good stead when we need him."

Emanuel Pogatetz in training

How important are the next two games?

SA: "I think that Fulham are in a similar situation to ourselves where performances have been pretty good but results have not followed that. It's all about winning football matches and putting points on the board. We've both failed to do that, so it's a massive game from our point of view. It's a team that are below us at the moment and you don't want teams below you to catch you up and get nearer to you.

"Then it's Swansea at home and we've played so well at home all season. Our performances at home have been outstanding, but recently it's been performances but not the results we should have gained. That's been hugely disappointing - too many draws have turned to losses and too many supposed wins we've ended up with draws, particularly the last one against QPR. It was a massive blow to have played that well - in my opinion the best game we've played here this season, from start to finish we battered them - and not win. That's the problem we've got, when we're so dominant we've got to win."

Harry Redknapp was quoted as describing the transfer window as 'gang warfare' between agents. What do you think?

SA: "I wouldn't use the terminology gang warfare, but I would agree that the volatility that the January market causes means that you're looking at a group of people, licenced agents, who have one month to make money, and then they don't make money any more until the end of the season. That will bring a huge and volatile market to the forefront where they will try to outdo each other and do whatever it takes to get a deal on the table for them to be the ones who benefit financially.

"That's where the problem lies when it comes to who is looking after what and who represents what player. It's hugely difficult to work all that out in the first place and, yes, it causes a massive panic in and around this time of the year. Then the speculation that goes with it in the media, which is probably fuelled mostly by agents telling you that this player is going to go there, and this player might go here and so on and so forth. It's a hugely stressful window as ever and we'll all be glad when it's over."

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