Romford boy Shelvey can cause West Ham problems
The Hammers go into Saturday’s home clash with Blackpool without David Bentley and Robert Green, but with a point to prove.
Like West Ham, Blackpool have made wholesale changes to the squad that was relegated last season.
A dozen new players have arrived at Bloomfield Road, approximately the same amount that the Hammers have signed, while their sale of Charlie Adam to Liverpool and DJ Campbell to QPR banked them over �10million.
Unlike the Hammers though, their efforts to go back up at the first attempt have remained below the radar, but to underestimate them on Saturday would certainly be a mistake.
Ian Holloway has brought in the experienced pair Barry Ferguson and Kevin Phillips from Birmingham City, while perhaps the shrewdest acquisition has been the loan swoop for Liverpool’s Jonjo Shelvey.
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The 19-year-old Romford boy was in inspired form on his Blackpool debut, scoring along the way in a 5-0 crushing of Bristol City and he will be the one to watch this weekend.
Daniel Bogdanovic grabbed two goals that day and will put pressure on Phillips for his place, but the veteran already has five goals to his name, while Gary Taylor-Fletcher has four.
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Blackpool have lost only once on their travels this season, at Portsmouth, while they won at Hull City on the opening weekend and have drawn at Crystal Palace, Coventry City and Brighton.
Last season’s battle between the two ended in a 0-0 draw, while in fact the Hammers have not beaten the Seasiders at Upton Park since 1970 when Jimmy Greaves and Peter Eustace scored in a 2-1 victory.
David Bentley has sadly returned to Tottenham through injury but there was better news regarding the fitness of Matt Taylor ahead of Saturday’s clash.
He is back in training and hopeful of being fit in time to take his place on the left hand side of the West Ham midfield after missing the last two games with a calf injury.
Joey O’Brien may well miss the game with a hamstring strain, which could mean Julien Faubert retains his place at right back with Freddie Sears or Jack Collison replacing Bentley on the right hand side.
Mark Noble is fit again, but may struggle to win his place back ahead of Papa Bouba Diop, while Guy Demel is only considered fit enough for a possible place on the bench.
Possible Blackpool team: Gilks, Baptiste, Cathcart, Crainey, Evatt, Southern, Ferguson, Shelvey, Sutherland, Taylor-Fletcher, Phillips.
Prediction: West Ham United 2 Blackpool 0
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