West Ham still without Sakho as Reid injury is confirmed
PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 November 2016
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Hammers boss Slaven Bilic says that striker Diafra Sakho is still not ready to return to action
West Ham go into their Premier League clash with Stoke City at the London Stadium looking for three points and a trouble-free afternoon tomorrow (Saturday).
But they will have to do so without the suspended Winston Reid and it also seems without striker Diafra Sakho, despite his return to full training with the first team this week.
The Senegal international front man has not played a single game all season, but his return to full training suggested that he may play a part against the Potters.
But manager Slaven Bilic ruled that out at his pre-match press conference yesterday (Thursday).
“He has been good in training,” said Bilic. “But we have to be on the back foot with him. He didn’t play or train with the team since the first day of the pre-season. We are talking about the first of July, now it is November.
“He is naturally fit, he looks good and very motivated. He trained individually, then with the under-23s and he has trained Tuesday and Wednesday with us.
“But there is no chance of him playing on Saturday, it is too early. Not way too early, but too early. It is also because of the international break. He has had three trainings and then he can have another two weeks which will make him proper ready for the game.
“Not for the Stoke game, but if everything goes as well as it has been, he should be there for the Spurs game.”
Goals have been a problem for West Ham, especially among the strikers, so is Bilic considering a start for Ashley Fletcher, who scored for the development team on Monday night?
“Very few people expected Ashley to play a part in the Premier League this season, but from the first day of training he has looked good and he has been involved in games. He is progressing and is involved with the first team, he is there when we think about the team,” he said.
Fletcher may have to settle for a place on the bench for now, where Simone Zaza may also find himself as Bilic goes with a similar team to the one which beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup and lost at Everton.
However, there will be no Reid who, as well as serving a one-match ban, has also suffered a grade one hamstring tear.
So will the manager change the formation for tomorrow?
“Reid has been the key man in this formation,” added Bilic. “He pushed up and presses when he needs to, but we won’t necessarily have to change the system because he is not available.
“We have a couple of players who can play in that position.”
That suggests either James Collins, Havard Nordtveit or even young Reece Oxford will come in.
Whoever plays, they will face a stern test against in-form Stoke City, with Joe Allen the obvious danger man.
“Allen is playing really good, scoring and creating goals,” said Bilic. “He is one of their main players especially now Marko Arnautovic is suspended.”