Morrison set for full debut
Sam Allardyce has urged Ravel Morrison to make the most of his full West Ham debut in the Capital One Cup clash with League Two Cheltenham.
The precocious 20-year-old played for the last 15 minutes of Saturday's goalless Barclays Premier League draw at Newcastle after earning rave reviews for his pre-season performances.
Now Allardyce is ready to give Morrison his chance as he prepares to make a number of changes for the Upton Park fixture, also including giving a full Hammers debut for new signing Razvan Rat.
Allardyce said: "Ravel is an emerging talent and we've very pleased with what he did in pre-season for us.
"He is an exceptional talent who we hope we can nurture into the fray. Some people might say sticking a player on at that late stage might be risky but we've got to do it at some stage."
Allardyce signed Morrison from Manchester United in January 2012 but sent him out on loan to Birmingham for the duration of last season, where he scored three goals in the Blues' Championship campaign.
Allardyce added: "We can see the talent and the only way to do it is to get him in the first team and get some minutes on the board.
"He'll play against Cheltenham and we'll see how he does and keep an eye on him.
"He's had a good season at Birmingham and he's brought that back with him in pre-season and it's great to see that talent is emerging."
New signing Stewart Downing could keep his place in the Hammers line-up after admitting being short of match practice since his summer move from Liverpool.
Downing, who has played in League Cup finals for each of his previous three clubs, told the Hammers' official website: "For me personally I just want to keep playing and get a good run at it.
"A lot of teams disregard the League Cup a little but I always think if you go strong in it, you've got every chance."
Cheltenham manager Mark Yates will be keen to see a repeat of Saturday's performance at Accrington.
Yates could choose to stick with the players who helped the Robins bounce back from the horror show against Plymouth with a solid 1-0 win at the Crown Ground.
Jermaine McGlashan and Byron Harrison will be desperate for a chance to prove their worth after they were dropped to the bench at the weekend.
Veteran striker Jamie Cureton is still sidelined with a shoulder injury.
The Robins' tie at Upton Park is a hugely-exciting prospect for many supporters but it will be a dream come true for chairman Paul Baker.
Baker, who has held the role with the Sky Bet League Two side since 1997, is a lifelong Hammers fan and regularly makes the trip from the Cotswolds to watch West Ham.
And he admits being in the boardroom, where he will wear the scarves of both clubs, rather than the stands will make this second-round clash a memorable evening, whatever the result.
"It's an unbelievable draw, it really is, for not just me, but for the whole club," he told the Gloucestershire Echo.
"I used to watch West Ham regularly in my 20s and I even went to Brussels to watch them in the European Cup Winners' Cup final against Anderlecht in 1976, which they lost 4-2.
"During my formative years West Ham had so many great players and for a Cheltenham lad to be travelling to the East End of London was such a contrast
"The atmosphere at Upton Park is always good with the crowd virtually on the pitch and it will bring back memories for me of roasted peanuts and jellied eels outside the ground.
"I've never been in the boardroom before so I am looking forward to going there with my hometown club and it'll be a proud moment and another great day for Cheltenham."