Tuesday 23 January 2018

Underfire Grant eyes cup run to offer fans hope

Avram Grant hopes to give West Ham fans something to shout about tonight by leading the club into the Carling Cup quarter-finals.

Hammers fans are enduring a season to forget in the Premier League, with Saturday's 2-1 defeat against Newcastle leaving them rooted to the foot of the table.

Extending their current cup run would provide some comfort and perhaps even boost their league form, as it did when they beat Sunderland in last month's third round.

Manager Grant, under pressure at Upton Park, said ahead of tonight's clash with Stoke: "The fans are great here. They support the team and I feel them everywhere.

"They are having to be patient but they knew, like everyone, that this season would be a difficult one."

Grant, who led Chelsea to the Carling Cup and Champions League finals while in charge at Stamford Bridge, added: "I was a few times at Wembley and even one time in Moscow. It is nice to have a cup run.

"It is one game and we need to focus.

"In the league, you can lose a game but you can recover in the next match. In the cup, if you make a mistake, you are out.

"We have to make the match all about us.

"We have bounced back before this season and we will be working hard to do that once again."

Grant is set to be without captain Matthew Upson and striker Frederic Piquionne tonight after both players limped off injured against Newcastle.

"The medical department are doing their best to get as many players ready as possible," said Grant, who will introduce one or two fringe men to his squad.

"We have a few players that are coming back from injury and we need to protect them. It is not easy.

"We want to use them. It is difficult when you play two times a week but we will do the best we can."

The Israeli added: "We changed a few things in the team against Sunderland in the last round and it was very positive.

"Players came in and performed well and gave us a better understanding of the squad. This will be the case again.

"At the beginning of the season, people said we didn't have a strong squad.

"I would not say we can rival the top four but the cup has helped to show that we do have good players and more options," added the former Portsmouth boss.

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