Slaven speaks - Stoke City

Slaven Bilic talks to the broadcast media ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture with Stoke City at the Boleyn Ground
Slaven Bilic held his pre-match briefing with the broadcast media ahead of Saturday's Boleyn Ground Barclays Premier League date with Stoke City.

However, this weekend's match was low down the agenda when it came to questioning of the manager, who was quizzed about the injury issues which are currently affecting his Hammers squad.

The manager revealed timeframes for injuries suffered by Winston Reid and Victor Moses, some more positive news regarding Manuel Lanzini, and also talked about plans to move first-team training sessions from Chadwell Heath to Rush Green.

What can you tell us about Winston Reid's injury, which was reported on Wednesday evening?

SB: "Winston has injured his hamstring in the training session on Wednesday and he will go for a scan on Friday. Then we will see how long he is out for. It doesn't look good. Has has done it before and it's one of them, when they tell you four to six weeks. It doesn't look to be a small one.

"It happened in the very beginning of the training in the activation, like a long warm-up. Straight after, he slipped and he felt it rupture, so it's most definitely a rupture and we're going to see on Friday exactly how long it's going to be. It's not just going to be the Stoke game, it will be longer. We will know more after the scan."

Slaven, you also lost Victor Moses at Manchester United, so can you update us with regard to his injury situation?

SB: "Victor is out for four to six weeks. It's blow. We now have six injuries. Before the Everton game we had a full squad and they were all training and all fit and everything. First, against Everton we had two injuries with Valencia and Payet, both of them from tackles. After the international break, we've had four injuries, starting with Sakho, then Lanzini, Moses and now Winston Reid.

"Of course it's a big blow for us because they are six very important players, but we are going to move on and we have to get over this period without them.

"We have a good medical team that will usually bring the players back very soon, so we have to compensate their absence with team-work, like we did against Manchester United. That was really good, so I want us to continue the way we are playing.

What impact does losing your main goalscorers and assist-makers to injury have on the way you will approach matches?

SB: "It's logical that they created and scored most of our chances and goals, because they were the ones who played in those positions - left, right, up front or behind. They were doing their job really good and we're going to miss them of course, because they're great players. That's why we got them and they've been playing regularly.

"It's a good thing Valencia is back now and he's training with us today, so we'll see if he is in good shape in terms of fitness and in terms of if he is available. He is a great player and we're delighted he is back.

"It's going to be hard without players like Lanzini, Payet, Moses and Sakho, but we played without almost all of them against Manchester United and still we created enough chances to score goals.

"As I said, when all the players were available it was also about the squad. Now, we have a tinier squad but it's time for those those players to step up.

"It's impossible to compensate for these players individually, but with team-work and spirit that we have already got, we know we can do it. It's time for those players who didn't play that much, but worked hard in training, to step up and for the rest of the team to help them and for us to continue."

Do you have a theory as to why you have suffered so many injuries in recent weeks?

SB: "It's the million dollar question. On the one hand you see it happening at many Premier League clubs, but to be fair I don't care about other clubs in that sense.

"There have been a lot of things said since I came here about the pitches that we have here at Chadwell Heath, and they're not ideal. If you saw Reidy's injury, he slipped because our pitches are very soft on the surface, but underneath they are very, very hard, so that's the worst combination.

"Not only this year, but throughout the years we have a history in that and the players are moaning as they are not happy about the quality of the pitches.

"So, I've decided that we are a club in transition regarding our training facilities and we are planning to move next season to Rush Green, but because of the quality of the pitches we're going to go there earlier.

"I've decided, from Monday, we are going to move to Rush Green and start to train there because we can't continue to miss this much players with these kind of pitches, which are not in good shape.

"We're going to move on Monday. The plan was to go next year, but because of the situation we're going to do it now.

"I don't see any other reason because we have a good medical team and good players and the sessions are good, and I told you that since I came here it was an issue - last year, two years ago or five years ago. It has nothing to do with the groundsmen or the medical staff - it's just the way the ground is here."
How do you try to be positive in this current situation?

"I am not trying to be positive - I am very positive. I said to the players it is time for us to show that we can get over the injuries.

"The season is very long and in every season you more or less have these situations. One day, you think 'Do we have too many players?' and 'Can you keep them all happy?' and then in basically no time you have the totally opposite situation.

"No matter how hard it is, you have to stay positive and I am. We have a good team and I'm sure we're going to show that we can play without those players, who we're going to try to bring back as soon as possible."

Will you buy players in January?

SB: "I said four weeks ago that I was quite happy and we'd only sign a player if an exceptional one became available, or if someone goes, then we would have to replace them.

"In every club there is always room for one player to come, but only if he is exceptional or can make the team better. Now, if we think about Stoke or Swansea, we want to have two or even three players!

"These are not long, long term injuries. valencia is back and I hope Lanzini will be back for the Swansea game. Dimitri Payet looks really good and has come back for treatment. His ankle is very, very stable and who knows what will happen in two or three weeks.

"I am not hoping but expecting a few of them to come back very, very soon and when they do, there is no need for new players, except if we find one who is exceptional."
You host Stoke City on Saturday. How impressed have you been with them, particularly in last weekend's victory over Manchester City?

"They played really good against Man City, but not only against Man City. Recently, for example, their away win against southampton was really good, then against Chelsea, then last week against Man City.

"A few of their moves, especially in the first half, were top-class football which doesn't surprise me because up front they have top quality players and top quality internationals.

"Shaqiri was in Bayern Munich and Inter Milan and the top clubs were fighting for him. They got him and it's a big credit to Mark Hughes that they got him.

"The same happened with Krkic two years ago, then they have Arnautovic who is also top-class. With Walters, they have him from the bench now.

"They are a good, solid team and they are really good in the transition. They are also much better in possession and using space when they make a counter-attack.

"I am impressed, of course, and it's going to be a very difficult game for us, but we are good as well!"