West Ham goalscorer may miss out at Southampton in formation change

Sam Baldock may have been the goalscoring hero against Blackpool, but he may have to settle for a place on the bench at St Marys as boss Sam Allardyce looks for an early birthday present

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is keeping his formation options open for Tuesday night’s top of the table showdown at Southampton, despite an emphatic 4-0 thumping of Blackpool on Saturday.

The manager adopted a 4-4-2 system against the Seasiders and watched strikers John Carew and Sam Baldock grab the headlines, but the boss is remaining cautious about Tuesday’s trip, wary of Southampton’s awesome home record which has seen them win their last 14 league games.

“I don’t know what formation we will use, it depends on how Southampton play,” said the manager keeping his cards close to his chest. “If they are very, very strong in some areas then I will adapt my side to nullify those strengths. If I don’t then we will be one of the many teams that lose there.

“In fact, every team has lost there so far this season so my tactics will be set out to nullify their strengths and if that means I have to change the system then we will look at that.”

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If he does revert to a lone striker system, it will make it tough to find a place for Saturday’s two-goal hero Sam Baldock, but Allardyce insists that he has no problems in changing his side.

“I don’t get selection headaches,” he said. “My time is spent selecting the right team and pleasing some people and disappointing others. It could be for the reason that he isn’t playing well, or it could be for a tactical reason, it even for a fatigue reason like Henri Lansbury.”

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Allardyce will have to decide what to do with Baldock, while Carlton Cole is also likely to be fit after missing Saturday’s win over Blackpool.

“It’s just a little knee problem, a ligament at the side of the knee,” revealed the boss. “The medical boys said they would be very disappointed if they didn’t have it 100 per cent cleared up by Tuesday, but they couldn’t guarantee that if he went our on the pitch against Blackpool, that he wouldn’t make it worse, so we didn’t risk him.”

The boss will look at the fitness of Matty Taylor, who played 62 minutes of Saturday’s game after being out with a calf strain, while Joey O’Brien and Guy Demel are both struggling for full fitness.

Allardyce will celebrate his 57th birthday the day after the Southampton game and he is hoping that there will be something to celebrate.

“I think I forget about birthdays now that they are creeping up a bit. I’m getting closer to 60 and I don’t really want to know about that.

“If we get a victory then I’ll probably take the day off, if we don’t, then I will come in at some stage and plan.

“But hopefully the lads will give me a good early birthday present on Tuesday night.”


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