Nottm Forest V West Ham at The City Ground : Match Preview
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Cox: Hammers a good test for us
Nottingham Forest striker Simon Cox is relishing the prospect of a taste of the top flight against West Ham in the FA Cup.
Forest will face Premier League opposition in a competitive match for the first time in almost 18 months when Sam Allardyce's team arrive at the City Ground on Sunday.
The last time was in August 2012 when Wigan won 4-1 on the banks of the River Trent in the League Cup - a game which saw Cox score the Reds' consolation goal.
Forest harbour realistic ambitions this season of ending their 15-year absence from the top flight and Cox sees the visit of the Hammers as a taste of what might be.
"It's going to be a tough task but if we get to the Premier League next season we'll be going up against this sort of team week in, week out, which obviously is what we want to be doing," said the Republic of Ireland international.
"You don't necessarily like to play sides from your own league because it can feel like any other game, but this is a match everyone is looking forward to. It'll be a good test for us."
Midfielders David Vaughan, on loan from Sunderland, and Djamal Abdoun will be checked on after both missed the Championship draw at Reading on New Year's Day.
Striker Darius Henderson will be available for selectionafter completing a three-match suspension.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce still believes in the magic of the FA Cup - but his side's current league form means the third-round trip is not high on his list of priorities.
The Hammers travel to the City Ground languishing in 19th place and having collected just two points throughout the whole of December.
A 3-0 home win over Fulham on November 30 was the last time West Ham managed to take three points from a league game, although they have progressed to the final four of the Capital One Cup with a two-legged semi-final against Manchester City to come.
Those two factors dictate that Allardyce will not be focusing too much on Forest but he feels they will not be the only club taking the competition a little lightly.
"There is no change from my point of view in terms of the competition," he said.
"It is a fantastic competition and has great history and tradition, there is no doubt about that. But if you're in a position where we are and with the injuries we have there is only one major priority at this football club from all levels.
"From all levels, I mean from the owners all the way down, that priority lies with the Barclays Premier League and that won't ever change for any football club, irrespective of who they are.
"At this stage of the season, when we face the third round on the back of a heavy, heavy schedule then it becomes less of a priority to all of the other competitions you are involved in, certainly if three days later you have a semi-final against Manchester City up at the Etihad Stadium."
Andy Carroll, Mark Noble, James Collins, Winston Reid, James Tomkins and Ricardo Vaz Te are all injured and skipper Kevin Nolan is suspended.
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