Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Tuesday March 3 2009
Latics go into this game against West Ham following the heartbreak of conceding a last minute goal at Chelsea that cost Steve Bruces side a point and ultimately 7th spot in the Premier League.
West Ham leaped frogged the Latics into 7th with their 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday and has the table stands there is just one point separating the two sides.
Latics should welcome back Valencia, Mido, Koumas and Watson into the squad with both Valencia and Mido likely to figure in the starting eleven.
With the possibility of a European place at stake come the end of the season this is very much a six pointer with both sides trying to put a little gap between themselves and the other sides vying for that elusive qualifying spot
Latics boss Steve Bruce:
'The squad's done very well recently. The continued loss of Antonio Valencia means we've lost a bit of our cutting edge.
'But, we'll keep plugging away and I think our defining moment is in the next three fixtures.
'We've got West Ham, followed by games against Sunderland and Hull. If we can get results in those games it could kick-start our campaign.'
"If one of the top four gets to Wembley for the FA Cup then seventh comes into play for Europe. Now we are in a position where we might challenge for that, but to do that we have to beat West Ham.
"West Ham are above us at the moment and are on a good run, so it will be interesting
West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola
'The players know what our objective is right now so everybody is going to be pushing to achieving that, the players are focused on that. We just have to be consistent now to get results starting on Wednesday. We will go there and we can try to win.'
'I rate Steve Bruce very much'
'His team is playing very well and they are a team to respect. I saw them play a couple of times and I like the way they play. They like to play football and they are a powerful and strong team and it is going to be a hard game for us.'
Valencia, Mido and Koumas return from injury whilst Ben Watson is available after serving a one match ban for 5 bookings
Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Cattermole, N'Zogbia, Watson, Valencia, Sibierski, Kapo, Zaki, Kingson, Pollitt, Edman, Brown, Boyce, Mido, Rodallega.
Valencia has been missed these past few games
James Collins, Valon Behrami, Luis Boa Morte , Kieron Dyer , Danny Gabbidon and Dean Ashton are all out for the Hammers
West Ham from:
Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Parker, Collison, Kovac, Cole, Di Michele, Lastuvka, Lopez, Savio, Spector, Tristan, Sears.
Quality midfield player
West Ham 2-1 Latics
16th August 2008
Heart says Latics win 3-1
Head says Latics win 2-0
Sunderland Vs Latics
Saturday 14/03/09 3pm
Stadium of Light
Date:Tuesday March 3 2009
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