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West Ham V Cardiff at Upton Park : Match Preview
Published : 06 May 2012 14:01:24
Same again for Hammers
West Ham once again have a fully-fit squad for the home leg of their play-off against Cardiff. The Hammers picked up no new injuries when they ran out 2-0 winners in the first leg on Thursday. Two-goal hero Jack Collison is set to keep his place despite still recovering from cartilage problems which mean the Wales midfielder sometimes sits out training. Striker Carlton Cole, who has also struggled with a knee problem at times this season, should continue up front alongside Ricardo Vaz Te. George McCartney has come on as a substitute in the last two games after recovering from concussion and is pushing to reclaim his spot at left-back, which would allow Matt Taylor to move to his preferred midfield position. Assistant manager Neil McDonald loves the play-offs but hopes the system does not punish his side after what he feels has been an "impressive" season.
West Ham are bidding to secure a place at Wembley at the expense of a side that finished 13 points behind them. "I think the play-offs have been one of the best things that has been introduced to football along with three points," said McDonald. "It gives everybody a chance, it keeps the whole season going and, yes, it is slightly disappointing to finish third and so many points above fourth, [fifth and sixth] but we knew what was happening. "We knew what the situation was and we've tried to put that to the back of our mind now." Cardiff manager Malky Mackay will assess the fitness of Don Cowie and Kevin McNaughton. Midfielder Cowie picked up a slight knock on Thursday night and full-back McNaughton missed out due to a calf strain sustained in the 2-1 final-day win at Crystal Palace. The Bluebirds are battling to avoid a third consecutive play-off disappointment having lost the 2010 final to Blackpool before departing at this stage against Reading last term. Mackay said: "Most people may now expect West Ham to make it through to the final - that could be a natural reaction I suppose. "But myself and the team don't subscribe to that. We go into Monday afternoon trying to win the game. "We have 90 minutes to score twice and, beyond that, to win the game. Right now we have a fighter's chance."
West Ham V Cardiff - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.