West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has breathed a sigh of relief now that some of his injured players are on the brink of a return for the clash away at Newcastle United on Saturday (January 16).
The Hammers are on a strong run of form. They are unbeaten in eight haven’t tasted defeat since November 22 when they were thrashed 4-1 by Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
The east London club are a point and a place below Spurs and the return of stars such as Victor Moses and Cheikhou Kouyate have arrived at the right time to join the fight for the coveted fourth place.
Bilic said: “Moses started to train the day before the Bournemouth game and we’ll see if he is available for the weekend. Kouyate wasn’t fully fit and has played a lot of football recently so I decided not to risk him for the Bournemouth game so he can rest. I can’t afford to risk an injury to one of the best midfielders in the league. Zarate felt cramp before Tuesday after some free-kick work he did.”
The last time the Irons met the Magpies on September 14 where French midfielder Dimitri Payet was once again influential scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory at Upton Park.
The history book – if not the form book – suggests the trip north will be a challenge. West Ham have won just one of their last 12 Barclays Premier League trips to St James’ Park and have failed to score in three of their last four trips.
However, since losing 0-2 at Newcastle on the final day last season, West Ham have lost just twice away in the Premier League.
Bilic, always cautious, said recent solid performances from Newcastle – including a stunning 3-3 draw against Manchester Utd – will mean Steve McClaren’s side will be a stern test.
Bilic said: “They had a slow start with a new team and new manager. Now they have a really good roster and they have many great options going forward. They have quality – they have goals in them – they’re very dangerous and they’re high in confidence. I am expecting a good a difficult game in a great stadium but we’re really looking forward to it.”
Follow The Wharf on Twitter @the_wharf
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook