Big Sam on: Everton

West Ham United return to action at Everton on Saturday following the international break - and manager Sam Allardyce will wait on the fitness of a couple of his players who featured for their countries.

Both Stewart Downing and Diafra Sakho have arrived back at Chadwell Heath nursing injuries following their exertions for England and Senegal respectively.

The manager spoke to the media ahead of Saturday's game at Everton and updated them on the injury status.

Diafra Sakho couldn't play for Senegal on Wednesday because of back pain, is he ok for the game against Everton?

SA: "We don't know yet. He only got back last night so haven't had time to assess him yet. We'll be looking at him today and make a decision soon. Obviously we don't have too much time before the Everton game on Saturday so it'll be touch and go.

"It's a problem every manager faces after international duty. Stewart Downing came off at half time with a knee problem as well so we have to monitor that one too. They're both two players that have been in top form for us. Sakho's goals and Downing's performances are two of the reasons why we're fourth at the moment.

"We need to be very careful with both players because we don't want to take any risks with their long term fitness. If they play on Saturday and aggravate the injury they could be out for two or three weeks which would mean missing five or six games and we can't afford that. We have a hard enough task as it is and a tough run of games coming."

If Sakho doesn't play, you've had two weeks to work on Andy's fitness, is he ready to start?

SA: "I wouldn't say he's 100% match fit but he is ready to start. He's raring to go as is Carlton Cole so we've got very good options up front. We don't have much time to work together for Saturday but that's the situation we're in, same as Everton. We'll work on a few things today and tomorrow and then make a decision."

Do you think Stewart Downing blew his chance against Scotland?

SA: "No I don't think so. He had an injury in the first half which restricted his movement. I watched the game and I didn't see him do anything wrong. I know people have criticised his performance but I thought he did OK. He certainly hasn't blown his chances of further international call ups."

What's the situation with Winston Reid's contract at the moment?

SA: "It's an ongoing negotiation at the moment. We want him to stay at the club, he's a great player who has done fantastically well for us. The Chairmen will notify whenever an outcome, either way, has been reached. Like everything these days it's probably down to money."

Roberto Martinez has said West Ham are one of the contenders for a European place, what do you make of that?

SA: "We've made a good start in that direction but there is a long, long way still to go. I think it's a huge ask which is probably just ahead of us at the moment. Had we got three points against Aston Villa, which we should have done, then maybe but I think that was a game that if we really are going to push for Europe then we would have won that game.

"We have a vital part of the season coming up. November and December is a tough time and it will determine where we finish. There isn't an international break for a long time so we don't have an opportunity to regroup if necessary so it will be a big test for us."

Given how well you've started the season, have your targets changed?

SA: "Not really, no. We want to finish higher than tenth, that has been our aim all along. At the moment we are capable of doing more than that, it's just of question of maintaining it over a season. Like a said we have the chances and opportunities to score against Villa and we didn't take them which was very disappointing. Hopefully we'll put that right on Saturday."

What have made of Everton so far this season, a little bit inconsistent?

SA: "Roberto like a lot of us has suffered more injuries than they did last season. So he's had to change around the team a bit, he hasn't had many opportunities to pick his strongest eleven yet. But they've consistently been at this level for long, long time. First under David Moyes and now with Roberto. They've had a legacy of getting into Europe, there's a history of that having a negative effect in following games but I think it's better to be in Europe than not."

Are Everton the benchmark for a club like West Ham?

SA: "I think sustainable growth is massively important. When David Moyes took over they were a relegation threatened side but they've grown over the years and are now one of the best teams in the league. They've been in contention for Europe and a cup for a number of years now. They've also done well with limited funds, they haven't spent millions and millions. To be able to buy better players year-on-year with a limited budget is very impressive."

Were you surprised David Moyes took the Real Sociedad job?

SA: "No not really I think it's a good move for him. To get out of the country for a while and get back into the groove of managing. As long as it's a stable club that supports him I think it's a good challenge. He's a very good manager and I'm sure he'll be a success out there."