Slav expects to name strong squad



  • Slaven Bilic to name strong squad for Premier League trip to AFC Bournemouth
  • Andy Carroll, Robert Snodgrass, Jose Fonte and Michail Antonio all expected to be available
  • Cherries are without a win in their last eight top-flight matches ahead of Saturday's match

Slaven Bilic expects to name a strong squad for Saturday’s trip to AFC Bournemouth, with Andy Carroll, Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte all recovering from minor knocks.

Forward Michail Antonio also returns from suspension after missing the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea after his red card at Watford.

Carroll and Snodgrass both needed treatment for cuts during Monday’s 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at London Stadium, while Fonte picked up a slight strain, but all three players completed the full 90 minutes and the Hammers boss is confident of their involvement against the Cherries.

“Andy and Robert both had cuts in the Chelsea game,” he said. “Snodgrass had stitches [in his leg], and Andy in his eyebrow, but they are all right. Andy is fit.

“Fonte also felt something, but we are very optimistic that he is going to be OK for the game on Saturday, so it all looks good.”

The manager was speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash with Eddie Howe’s side at the Vitality Stadium, where Hammers will aim to repeat last season’s victory and make it three wins from their last four away matches.

Three points would take West Ham back into the top ten, but Bilic is not looking too far ahead in terms of targets.

“First, we have to secure our Premier League status,” he confirmed. “There is still a big job to do and, as I’ve said before, we approach every game and try to win it and see where it’s going to bring us. We want to and we have to finish the season strong.”

There is still a big job to do and, as I’ve said before, we approach every game and try to win it and see where it’s going to bring us

Slaven Bilic

Slaven Bilic
Bournemouth go into Saturday’s fixture winless in eight Premier League matches – a run that has seen them concede 21 goals and slip to 14th in the table, just six points above the relegation zone.

However, last weekend saw Howe’s ten men hold out for a valuable draw at Manchester United, and Bilic is anticipating a difficult afternoon on the south coast.

“They didn’t have a good run since that game against Arsenal [on 20 January] that they were winning 3-0 at home and they drew 3-3,” he observed.

“They’ve had a few defeats and a couple of draws but their last game would have given them a big boost in confidence and belief because to get a point against Man United at Old Trafford is always a great result, especially as they did it with ten men.

“They played the whole second half with ten men, so we’re expecting a really, really difficult game on a difficult, small pitch, with a good atmosphere, but we’re looking forward to it.”

While his focus is on squashing the Cherries, Bilic also found time to congratulate Vice-Chairman Karren Brady on being awarded Most Influential Woman in Football to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

“I meet her once a month and we discuss everything,” she said. “She is totally involved in everything, and the quality and effort and hours she puts in is great.

“She is one of the biggest reasons why this Club is moving up.”