Ahead of the difficult trip to Anfield to face a formidable Liverpool side, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic had nothing but praise and admiration for Liverpudlian Kevin Nolan, who ended his four year spell at the club.
The 33-year-old former captain made 157 appearances for the East Londoners, scoring 31 goals, since his £4million switch from Newcastle United in June 2011.
Bilic explained how he had nothing but admiration for the Bolton Wanderers midfielder, but also said how it was best for both West Ham and Nolan.
The 46 year old said: “Me and Kevin [Nolan] spoke and now he is leaving I can only thank him for what he has done for this football club. He was a great captain and a great professional even in the short experience I have had with working with him. He was brilliant and a hard worker and I wish him well on behalf of the staff and the players.
“The only reason why we let him go was because he wasn’t going to get as much game time as he wanted. That is the only reason and in the end it was good for both parties.”
Meanwhile, Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia recently criticised the lack of treatment and attention he was getting from the West Ham medical staff in his three month rehabilitation, saying ‘he feels he has been forgotten.’
However, former Besiktas coach Bilic insisted that Valencia has apologised and it is now ‘water under the bridge’.
“It wasn’t right for him to do that and I have spoken to him”, said Bilic. “He’s a good lad, and he apologised and he’s back in a normal routine. He has to know that the medical department are trying really hard to get him back to fitness as soon as possible. I’m sure he regretted what he said when he said it. I really believe he did not mean to say it and now it’s all sorted.”
The Hammers travel to Liverpool on Saturday hoping to end a 52 year hoodoo for their first win at the Reds.
Their task of attempting to inflict Liverpool with their first defeat could become harder, with striker Diafra Sakho having well documented problems off the pitch, on loan right back Carl Jenkinson serving a three match suspension and Mauro Zarate remaining on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Nevertheless, striker Andy Carroll could return on the bench against his former employers after an eight month absence with a serious knee injury.
Bilic said: “He was back in training. He trained with us part of the day before yesterday and felt good and today he is supposed to do the whole session which won’t be that hard. He’s improving and injury free and only a matter of fitness now to get him back.
“Before he joined us he trained for a few weeks with a short setback of one week. He worked really hard and it was really good in terms of everything for a few weeks. If everything goes well over the international break he should participate in the game for Newcastle. Up front we are light. We have a few injuries and limited options.”