West Ham strikers out but Bilic hopes to have Chicharito fit for Brighton clash
PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 October 2017
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Carroll and Sakho out of Seagulls showdown
West Ham striker Javier Hernandez is winning his battle to be fit for tonight’s Premier League clash with Brighton at the London Stadium.
But with fellow frontman Andy Carroll suspended and Diafra Sakho out injured, it is essential that the little Mexican is fit for the game.
“We have a couple out with injury,” said manager Slaven Bilic at his press conference.
“There is James Collins, who is only a matter of days away and there is Sakho who has a back pain and didn’t train since Burnley.”
Losing Sakho is a blow to the team and also to himself who must have been relishing the chance to add to his three goals this season with Carroll missing.
A question mark remains over ‘Chicharito’, but Bilic feels that he will be fit to play his part.
“He had a tight hamstring, but he is due to train today (Thursday) at 4pm and he is going to be okay, I think,” he said.
“It is not a big thing. He trained for a couple of days. He had a scan which was clear so he only missed yesterday’s training which was only a light session anyway.
“Based on all that, we are expecting him to be fit.”
It will be a chance for Hernandez to play in the forward position he so covets, having to move slightly wider, or deeper, when Carroll was in the team.
One man who will not be included though, despite the lack of strikers, is youngster Toni Martinez.
The former Valencia youngster scored a hat-trick for the under-23s against Manchester United on Sunday, but Bilic ruled out a call-up at the moment.
“He is showing good form and he is improving a lot,” said the manager.
“But we have enough options up front and so he will probably not be in the squad for tomorrow.”
One thing to consider is how Bilic will line-up his team. At Burnley he played a very attacking formation, with only one defensive midfielder, so will we see the same tonight?
“We are going to see. It is not about what it looks like on paper, it is about the responsibility and the movement of the players when you have the ball or when you don’t,” he said.
“For some people against Burnley it was too offensive. It will make a difference if you are playing with one or with two more solid players, we also had Pedro Obiang who can do a little bit of both.”
One man who missed out at Burnley was skipper Mark Noble, so how did he take being on the bench?
“He is a great captain,” said the boss. “I spoke with him before the game, he is the skipper and you don’t like to do it, he is the main man.
“But because of the game and what I wanted to do, he was brilliant in the dressing room, he took it as a proper man.”
With strikers missing, one of Obiang or Noble is likely to come in, but either way, Bilic is confident of the win.
“It is going to be tough and I respect them, but we are concentrating on us, we have one defeat in six,” he said.
“We play at home and what we want is a good performance and three points.” Kick-off is at 8pm.