Ahead of the Hammers’ clash with Crystal Palace at the weekend, boss Slaven Bilic held his weekly press conference.
The gaffer gave some injury updates and had his say on players returning after the international break.....
What is the latest team news following the international break?
With the break, on the one hand, we didn’t want it. We wanted to continue our form, but we have also played many games, so it was not bad for us. We rested a bit, then trained hard, before having another rest.
Some players went to play international games, and now we are mostly back together, but not everyone. That’s why this Crystal Palace game might be coming a little too soon. I’m not happy because we will not have all of us on the pitch for training still.
James Tomkins is back, and the only players who are out are James Collins and Sam Byram. They are progressing really well, but they won’t be in the frame for the Palace game. Some players are still flying back tomorrow, like Victor Moses, but Payet is back from France. It’s not ideal, but we want to immediately get back into the shape that we were in before the break.
Are clubs who have international players penalised by the breaks?
In some way, yes. You want your players to have a rest sometimes, but you also want them to gain confidence and quality and add a new dimension when they play for international teams, and you should be happy when they do.
How good for the club is it that Payet has played so well for France?
It’s good for him and it’s good for us. He was very confident before but he will be more confident now. By the way, he didn’t go on holiday. He was training with top quality players and a quality coach. His situation regarding France, I think it’s changed a lot. Now, he has had two really good games.
Is there any truth to the speculation linking with you new signings?
With Toni Martinez at Valencia, we are quite close. Terry Westley with the U21s does a great job, and if we finish [the deal], we will have one of the brightest young players from Valencia. All the other rumours are all speculation at the moment.
How are you feeling about playing Palace given their bad form in 2016?
They are the best example of why Premier League managers are wary of good form. 2016 has been great for Palace in the FA Cup as they are through to the semis, but in the league they haven’t won in 13 (games).
Their confidence has gone down and you start to lose matches without knowing the reason why it is happening. Then it continues and you are in trouble. They have been unlucky in their last couple of home games, especially against Liverpool. It’s still a very dangerous game for us. They have a very solid team, have pace up front, so it will be difficult for us, of course.
I don’t think Palace have to change the way they play, with their counter-attacking, but they just need to start converting their chances.