Big Sam on: Sunderland

Sam Allardyce held his pre-match press conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday's trip to Sunderland.

The manager faced questions on team news, his side's league position, the test awaiting the Hammers at the Stadium of Light and more.

A lot of West Ham fans are getting nose bleeds at the moment, at the start of the season did you think this was achievable?

SA: "I wouldn't have thought it was achievable before we started playing because we had so many new players. But like I've said many times the new players have done a particularly fantastic job. The other players have done a job to welcome them in and make them feel comfortable. Our team spirit and family feel has played a part and everyone is on top of their game.

"I think the Swansea performance typified that, we're a very good team character wise as we came back from a goal down again. Our determination shone through as did our ability and quality. We don't just play one way, we're flexible and can adapt to the style we need to at that particular time. I think the lads have picked up on that really well and opposition defences don't know what's coming next. That causes unrest and I think our performance on Sunday was the best of the season."

Fifteen games into the season, have you adjusted your expectations or targets?

SA: "If we're still here towards the end of January then we'll reassess our aims. By that point we'll have played 20 games, we'll have played everybody once so we should have a good indicator of where we are. So we'll see what everybody has got in their locker, everybody would've seen what we have in ours so it'll be a question of whether we can carry it on.

"We might have a little worrying spell during the Africa Cup of Nations in January, that's why I'm not prepared to do any more predictions until they come back.

It would nice to say goodbye to the Boleyn Ground with some Champions League football?

SA: "I'm not sure about that, we don't want to get carried away. We just want to keep on playing the football we're playing at the moment. Everyone is enjoying themselves, there's a good buzz around the training ground which is always a good sign. I think competition for places keeps everyone hungry, there's quite a few disappointed players because they haven't played as much as they wanted and that is very healthy from my point of view. It keeps them on their toes and gets the best performances out of them."

Is Andy Carroll playing his best football in a West Ham shirt? Arguably his career?

SA: "I think he's still getting back to full fitness and he can get better once he's 100% ready. He's had a long layoff and only a handful of games played. His confidence will get better the more he plays, his goals will help that too. Certainly in the games he's played so far have been good and I think there's more to come.

"We're the third highest scorers in the League, with nine different scorers before the Swansea game. So we're getting goals from all over the team. With our options up front with Valencia and Sakho back as well as Carlton Cole and Mauro Zarate it is a very strong frontline that we can change if and when we need to."

Any injury news ahead of Sunderland?

SA: "Mark Noble is still injured with a problem with his Achilles tendon. Other than that we don't seem to have many problems."

With an almost full squad, is it unlikely Diego Poyet will feature?

SA: "He's in the squad so he has a chance. He's had some first team football up in Huddersfield, now's he back here, and we're happy he's back. At any point we could pick up injuries, we played Aston Villa and picked up five injuries that couldn't play against Everton. So having Diego back is important."

Has he been knocking on your door asking to play this weekend against his Dad's side?

SA: "No we haven't talked about that, he's in the squad so he's got a chance but we haven't discussed it."

In terms of scoring more goals and playing more attacking football was that a conscious decision?

SA: "Not really, you play the best way you can with the team you've got. We were never short of creating chances in my time here. I wouldn't say we're attacking more we're just scoring more goals then we did before and converting more chances.

"We're slightly down on our clean sheet ratio so that's the only bit of negativity. If we continue to score the goals then it won't matter as much."

A quick word on Sunderland, how do you rate them as opponents?

SA: "There hugely difficult at home, playing them away has been tough for us. They've been struggling for goals recently, I think Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher would've wanted a few more goals than they've got and if they had they would have converted their draws to wins. Hopefully we can keep those guys quiet on Saturday and deliver another good away performance."