West Ham’s quest for Premier League survival takes them to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday as they face the Bolton Wanderers.
Avram Grant’s side threw away a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 to table-toppers Manchester United in their last Premier League fixture, but will be encouraged by a run of form which has seen them lose just twice in their last eight top-flight fixtures.
They have steadily improved ever since Thomas Hitzlsperger returned from injury and linked up in midfield with captain Scott Parker, who has been inspirational for the Hammers this season.
After playing the champions-elect on Saturday, life doesn’t get any easier for the Londoners when they travel to eighth-placed Bolton, but defender Lars Jacobsen is confident his side can pull off a good result.
“It’s a real opportunity at Bolton,” Jacobsen said.
“We all know it’s a difficult place to play but in the Premier League it’s always difficult and it’s a new chance for us.”
“With the quality and the players we have available at the moment that it’s possible to go and get a good result at Bolton.”
The Wanderers’ patchy form of late is another reason why Jacobsen will feel confident, with Owen Coyle’s side having dropped their past two Premier League fixtures, albeit to Manchester United in one of those.
But they lost 2-1 to West Ham’s relegation rivals Birmingham City on Saturday and Coyle will be keen on bringing England international Zat Knight straight into the fold to help combat a strike-force containing the likes of Demba Ba and Carlton Cole.
Knight has not played since February after suffering a knee injury and is likely to replace David Wheater in the centre of defence.
However, neither Stuart Holden nor Sam Ricketts will feature again this season for Bolton after suffering knee and Achilles problems respectively.
West Ham’s injury worries are not as serious with Junior Stanislas the only first-team regular on the sidelines with osteitis pubis.
The news is better for Welsh midfielder Jack Collison, who returned to football after more than a year in West Ham’s reserves clash with Manchester United on Friday and could feature on the bench this week.
The reverse fixture earlier this season saw Bolton claim a 3-1 win at Upton Park back in August thanks to a Johan Elmander double, and the Wanderers are favourites to make it two-from-two against West Ham this season on Saturday.
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