Big Sam on: Southampton

Sam Allardyce reflected on an eventful fortnight, as his West Ham United side look to return to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League come Sunday's clash at Southampton. 

Defeat at home to Stoke City, coupled with Andy Carroll's injury setback has given the Hammers boss plenty to think about in recent days, but following an uplifting win against La Liga outfit RCD Espanyol, there is renewed optimism of leaving St Mary's with a positive result.

While Stewart Downing and Joe Cole are not expected to make the trip to the south coast, the Club's band of internationals have all returned from their travels unscathed, leaving Big Sam hopeful that Sunday will see the Hammers back to their best.           

Morning Sam, has it been a long fortnight since losing to Stoke City?

"It has been a long two weeks. I think since I've been here it's the first game I've ever lost before an international break - if memory serves. You always want to go into an international break with a positive result. We didn't get it. Obviously it was a terrific free-kick that we lost to, but it was the in possession performance that really disappointed me,

"And then the trials and tribulations of the window shutting after that and then, of course, earlier this week, the setback with Andy Carroll. So it has made the last two weeks very difficult for me personally.

"But the squad is still very focused and, I hope, determined to deliver the performance that we know we can produce at Southampton on Sunday. All our international players are back free from injury, so we look forward to the game and I'm looking forward to a positive performance from the players."

How serious is Andy Carroll's latest injury?

"It's not as serious as the first one, which is a little bit of good news from our point of view. It's just making sure that we continue the right treatment, recovery and rehabilitation to get him back as quickly as possible. 

How long do you expect him to be out for?

"No, not at the moment, not until he has seen all the specialists and we determine the way forward for Andy and his recovery."

How frustrating is that, given the fact that he is your main summer signing and you've not been able to utilise him yet?

"Well it's hugely frustrating. It's frustrating and devastating for Andy, because we were sort of thinking that this Sunday might be his first appearance on the substitutes bench, having started to join in training. 

"When we found out he had picked up another injury, not in the same place, but in the same tendon, we have to deal with that accordingly. And, of course, we've moved along quickly to make a signing in that area to cover that area and give us a bit more firepower hopefully. And when he gets fit, Mladen Petric, hopefully he'll play a good part between now and the end of the season."               

He's a different sort of player to Andy, I take it you don't see him as a replacement?

"We play according to the strengths of the team. We generally play a different way every game to be honest. My life is always about studying the opposition and asking the team to maybe play the same system but in a different way to nullify the opposition's strengths and expose their weaknesses.

"There are always subtle differences that I ask the players to remember and think about in order to try and achieve the top goal, which is the victory and three points."      

Any team news for the weekend?

"The team news is that the international players are ok. The team went out and had a very good game in Espanyol on Thursday. That went ok, to give some players a good first-team competitive edge. I think the squad, in terms of where we are at the moment, is looking fit and raring to go. 

"We still have George McCartney, Andy, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole injured, which is obviously a blow to us. We would expect that Joe and Stewart won't be too long in trying to get back into the squad. But obviously Andy and George are going to be a little bit longer."  

Is there any update on Carlton Cole?

SA: "Not at the moment, no. Where we are at the minute is that we got Petric in and that's very important to us. We've offered training time to Carlton, for him to try and help him get fit if he wants. If he's happy with that, I would be, and we'll see where we are from there, because we still have one place left in the squad." 

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