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Carling Cup Round 5 Preview

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West Ham United vs Manchester United

Tuesday 30 November | 19:45 GMT

Scott Parker is expected to miss West Ham United’s Carling Cup quarter-final against Manchester United, with the Premier League's bottom club anxious not to risk the midfielder's fitness as they continue their struggle against relegation.

Parker, whose training has been disrupted over the past fortnight by a chest infection, has been consistently West Ham's most impressive player this term but is likely to be on the bench at best tomorrow night despite the Londoners being been badly depleted by niggling injuries.

That will mean Avram Grant, whose team recorded their second league win of the season against Wigan Athletic on Saturday, selecting something of a makeshift side against United with one eye on the trip to Sunderland on Sunday.

Grant is hopeful that James Tomkins and Frédéric Piquionne will shake off knocks sustained on Saturday and be fit to play – the former would undoubtedly benefit from another appearance alongside Matthew Upson at the heart of the side's defence – but players such as Valon Behrami, Danny Gabbidon, Herita Ilunga and Kieron Dyer have all reported problems and are not expected to feature. Furthermore, Mark Noble and Manuel da Costa remain sidelined, with hip and ankle problems respectively, while Jack Collison and Thomas Hitzlsperger are long-term absentees and Lars Jacobsen is cup-tied.

"The medical department are doing all they can to get the players ready to play as much as they can," Grant said. "But we have to wait and see. We made seven changes against Sunderland [in the third round] and won, and now we want to win this game. But I don't know yet who will play. I think Manchester United will make changes but they have good players.

"Many of the players we have in the squad this season have had long-term injuries, so we have to manage them differently. We are doing all we can so they can play: sometimes we succeed, sometimes not. It is not very often that West Ham comes to a quarter-final of any competition, so we will try to win this game."

Robert Green should start his first game in the competition this season, replacing Marek Stech who began the victories over Oxford, Sunderland and Stoke City, with Grant aware of the need to maintain the much-needed momentum built up in the morale-boosting victory against Wigan. The West Ham manager can ill afford to see his side embarrassed by what is expected to be United's second string.

United, in contrast, arrive having not lost a game since April and fresh from the 7-1 drubbing of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. "When I was at Chelsea, Alex [Ferguson] described that season as the best season ever, but even then they did not start so well," Grant said. "You don't need to be at your best in the first few months, but at the end of the season. Alex is very clever. He does it every year. I can't remember one season when United started with full power."

From: The Guardian


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