LONDON (Reuters) - West Ham United are down to “less than the bare bones” in defence for Wednesday’s FA Cup third round replay against Manchester United at Old Trafford, manager Sam Allardyce said.
The Londoners have just three senior defenders available after James Collins (hamstring), Joey O‘Brien (hamstring) were ruled out, joining George McCartney (knee) on the sidelines.
Centre back Collins headed both of West Ham’s goals at Upton Park but United forced a replay when Robin van Persie netted a superb equaliser in the final minute to secure a 2-2 draw on January 5.
“It’s not great from a defensive point of view with James Collins going down injured and with both George McCartney and Joey O‘Brien unavailable,” Allardyce told the club’s website (www.whufc.co.uk) on Tuesday.
“It’s less than the bare bones at the moment, so it gives me great difficulty going to Old Trafford with only Guy Demel, James Tomkins and Winston Reid of our senior defenders fit. After that we’re down to young lads like Jordan Spence and Danny Potts.”
Worryingly for West Ham, free-scoring United continue to bang in the goals having netted 56 in 22 league games - 13 more than second best Manchester City and Chelsea have managed. Van Persie accounts for 17 of the 56.
Allardyce said he could be forced to sign defensive cover in the January transfer window because it was “very desperate in that particular area”.
The manager has already been busy beefing up his attacking options, signing Joe Cole, Marouane Chamakh on loan from Arsenal and Brazilian Wellington Paulista on loan from Cruzeiro.
A deal for Wellington was completed on Friday but Allardyce said he was not sure when West Ham fans will first get a glimpse of a striker who has scored 39 goals in 110 Brazilian Serie A and Copa Libertadores matches for Cruzeiro.
“I think he’s a talented player in terms of his ability on the front line. Let’s see if we can apply the talent into the team as quickly as possible,” Allardyce said.
”I don’t know how quickly that’s going to be, sooner rather than later hopefully, but it might take a little while.
“Talent is the most important thing and then applying that talent where it’s most difficult in the Premier League and that’s in the final third.”
Writing by Justin Palmer, editing by Mark Meadows