West Ham down to 'bare bones'
West Ham's injury crisis has become so bad that Sam Allardyce has been forced to ban full-contact training over Christmas.
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Hammers boss Allardyce insisted he could not risk losing any more players during the festive period as he faced up to the prospect of Carlton Cole being banned for three matches after Saturday's controversial 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat to Everton.
Referee Anthony Taylor infuriated Allardyce and West Ham's fans by sending off Cole for catching Leighton Baines with a raised boot while making what appeared an innocent attempt to control a dropping ball.
Taylor completed his conversion to pantomime villain by dismissing Everton's Darron Gibson for a similar offence in stoppage-time, Hammers supporters pouring scorn on what looked to them an obvious attempt to even up the score.
Allardyce and opposite number David Moyes confirmed they would appeal their players' red cards but the former was equally concerned about how to manage the rest of his depleted squad.
Andy Carroll, Mohamed Diame, Yossi Benayoun and Ricardo Vaz Te were joined on the sidelines by the ill Guy Demel on Saturday, with Allardyce forced to select an 80% fit Gary O'Neil in his starting line-up and long-term injury victims Alou Diarra and Jack Collison on the bench.
"We had 10 players who were fit and one was about 80% fit and that was all we had," Allardyce said.
"We had Jack Collison, who hasn't kicked a ball since the play-off final and Alou Diarra, who hasn't kicked a ball in three months, that is how bare bones we are at the moment."
West Ham's Boxing Day match at Arsenal has been postponed because of a planned tube strike, with their next game at Reading on Saturday, and Allardyce added: "Medical staff are busier than us as coaches at the moment. We can't afford any more contact or any more injuries, so we can't even do any training.
"If we try to do any training and try to do any shape or build-up for Reading, we will get contact between players and, if you get contact between players, you risk injury and we can't do that.
"We can't even get out on the field and do a bit of coaching at the moment."
Everton have also been beset by injury of late but were able to call on captain Phil Neville and striker Victor Anichebe on Saturday, the latter marking his return with the equaliser.
Prior to the first sending off, it was the visitors who felt hard done by, with Leon Osman seeing a goal controversially ruled out two minutes before Cole put West Ham ahead.
But Moyes' men yet again fought back to secure a result in a game where they have trailed this season, hauling themselves back into the top four thanks to Steven Pienaar's winner.
Moyes said: "I think the players have got bags of character - I do.
"And I think if you're going to play against West Ham at any time I've known - certainly Big Sam's team - you're going to have to show it, and I thought for the most of the game, we did do.
"I was actually stunned when we went a goal behind.
"I thought we had been playing really well and it sort of came out of the blue a little bit."
West Ham's goal was down to an individual error from the recalled Johnny Heitinga, who was far too easily turned by Cole.
Indeed, Moyes' decision to select the Dutchman and move Phil Jagielka out of the centre of defence to right-back threatened to backfire all afternoon.
Moyes admitted afterwards he was considering hauling Heitinga off.
"I was, yeah," he said. "He had quite a tough day, Johnny.
"Seamus Coleman hurt a hamstring in training and I thought I might've need Jagielka's pace against (Matt) Jarvis at times.
"In the main, I thought that proved to be right and I had to take that chance and move Jagielka, who's been outstanding this season, I've got to say, at centre-half."