Cardiff V West Ham at Cardiff City Stadium : LIVE

11 January 2014 08:37
Cardiff V West Ham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Solskjaer urges Bellamy to play on

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes he can convince Craig Bellamy to prolong his career as the striker prepares to return from injury against former club West Ham.

Saturday's clash at Cardiff City Stadium will be Solskjaer's first Premier League game as a manager, and will also see Bellamy available for the first time in two months after hamstring and knee injuries.

The 34-year-old has already retired from Wales duty and had previously hinted he could hang up his boots for good at the end of the current campaign.

But Solskjaer hopes he will get the chance to work a while longer with the veteran forward.

He said: "We have spoken together obviously and my thoughts are to play as long as you can, if you can play football and you feel you can justify your performances.

"That is my job now and of course Craig wants to get performing and get back out there, so hopefully I will motivate him and inspire him to prolong his career.

"He has been training with us for a week and is looking really sharp to be fair. He will be involved tomorrow and is in the squad. He is back and available."

Having enjoyed a winning start as Bluebirds boss courtesy of last weekend's FA Cup victory at Newcastle, the meeting with West Ham comes with an altogether different pressure.

The Hammers have shipped 11 goals in cup defeats against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City in the past week, and sit 19th in the Premier League table having not registered a top-flight win since the end of November.

Cardiff are themselves just a point above the drop zone, and victory over the Hammers would give them some valuable breathing space with away trips to Manchester City and Manchester United looming.

But Solskjaer does not feel Saturday's meeting is a "must-win" encounter.

"There is never a must-win game at this part of the season, you cannot tell players you have to win," he said.

"If we get a performance like the Sunderland performance we can get a result. So performance is first and foremost, you cannot think about consequences all the time.

"We have to improve step by step and get the performances and play like we want to. It is nice to win but we can never say we have to win."

Cardiff's new signing Magnus Wolff Eikrem looks set to be named on the bench after arriving from Heerenveen earlier in the week.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits he will be taking a "calculated risk" if he involves Andy Carroll.

The England international has not featured this season after struggling with a foot injury but could come to Allardyce's rescue as the club look to end a torrid week with a victory in south Wales that could take them out of the bottom three.

A win would take West Ham above their hosts in the league though, Allardyce is prepared to take a chance on Carroll's match-sharpness earlier than he would usually.

"Andy's training okay," Allardyce said.

"We have to talk to the lads who are looking after him. Whether he's ready or not. it'll be a calculated risk.

"If everything goes okay and according to plan, I'll make a final decision from the information I get.

"He's feeling fine and training well, but he's not played since last May. He'll not have his match-fitness. Ideally, we'd like to progress it a little slower but, based on the circumstances and where we are, it'll be a calculated risk."

Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga have managed just four Premier League goals between them so far this season so a return for Carroll, who moved to Upton Park on a permanent deal in the summer, would boost West Ham's goal threat.

But it is in defence where Allardyce has been plagued by injury in recent weeks.

With James Collins, Winston Reid and James Tomkins all missing, the 59-year-old has had to resort to playing his squad out of position.

The loan signing of Wolves' Roger Johnson, as well as a timely return to fitness for Tomkins, means Allardyce has fewer worries at the back - although Joey O'Brien is now missing.

"We'll have James Tomkins back in the squad," he confirmed.

"James Collins is close but not quite there. But we lost Joey O'Brien on Wednesday night as well.

"So it doesn't clear our problems; they continue due to the number of games and fatigue. We get one back and lose another. Central defensive problems have been the biggest issue in terms of results."

Source: PA

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