Manchester City v West Ham: Sam Allardyce relieved to have pressure off for one night in the Capital One Cup semi-final

West Ham manager happy to turn attention away from relegation battle for semi-final date with Manchester City

For West Ham United, Wednesday night's clash with Manchester City is an exercise in damage limitation. Sam Allardyce will task his patched-up side with fighting to keep the Capital One Cup semi-final alive into the second leg before attention switches to Saturday's trip to Cardiff, the "biggest game of the season" according to Matt Taylor.

Boosted by the return to fitness of key players – possibly even the rarely sighted Andy Carroll – the Hammers will fight on another front in the bigger battle to stay in the Premier League. But then everybody inside and outside Upton Park knows what has happened to the best-laid plans of Allardyce and his men in weeks gone by.

The League Cup is a happy oddity in West Ham's season, a silver lining amid the storm clouds. They have won more games in the competition than in the league.

The triumph at Tottenham in the quarter-finals is the sole occasion in which they have come from behind to win this season – Taylor could not remember the previous time the side had managed such a recovery (it was against Chelsea in December 2012).

Allardyce has made his priorities for the week quite clear. Sunday's "done and dusted" FA Cup humiliation was bottom of the list. At the Etihad is next best and Cardiff top priority, but for the moment it is about City and the allure of going to Wembley for a cup final, a journey the club have not made since 1981.

Allardyce spoke of the "great joy" of experiencing a Wembley cup final, as he did when he was in charge of Bolton a decade ago.

"We are in a very exciting cup tie with a massive, massive feeling of joy at the end of it if, as big as the underdogs that we are, we can get to Wembley," the manager said. "We don't have the same pressure we experience in the Premier League, that is for certain. We don't have to beat them on Wednesday. We have to come back with something realistic to beat them at home if we can."

Allardyce remains under no illusions how difficult it will be to get that "day out" at Wembley nor that it is what happens after the semi-final first leg, once West Ham have flown back south to begin preparations for Cardiff, that will decide his own future.

By 2 March, the day of the cup final, he could be out of a job whether West Ham are there or not. The clubs surrounding West Ham in the league have all dismissed their managers. On Monday the club's co-chairmen, David Gold and David Sullivan, supported theirs.

"Their track record proves they haven't rushed into anything," said Allardyce, admitting he was grateful for the public backing. "Over the last 18-20 years, the managers they've had, they've given them a good chance and stuck by them when things are not going so well.

"The reactions [of club owners in general] are getting quicker and quicker and quicker due to the impatience throughout the game for success. Success isn't built overnight. History tells you continually changing managers doesn't mean success. But I'm realistic to know I have to get results particularly quickly. In the end, we all know what happens if you don't get results as a manager."

Taylor insisted that for all the external "furore" surrounding Allardyce and the club, inside all is calm. "In-house everything is pretty buoyant," he said. "I don't believe there is a manager out there you would [rather have] in charge at this precise moment.

"You look at the teams he has managed, you look at the success he has had as a manager in keeping teams in the Premier League. I don't think I need to sit here and tell you his strong points – they are there for everybody to see."

Roger Johnson, who trained with the team for the first time following his arrival on loan from Wolves, is set to make his debut with Allardyce anxious to add more height to his back line; he highlighted City's aerial and physical threat.

Mark Noble may be fit to play at City and certainly against Cardiff as the injury crisis eases. James Collins and James Tomkins should be ready for Cardiff too and, most encouraging of all for Allardyce, Carroll could be on the bench as early as Saturday. That, at any rate, is the plan.

Pellegrini prepared for Hammers backlash

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini expects his under-fire West Ham counterpart Sam Allardyce to bounce back from his weekend FA Cup humiliation.

A youthful Hammers team were thrashed 5-0 by Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday, increasing pressure on Allardyce, but Pellegrini is reading little into that result ahead of the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg.

Pellegrini said: "They had an awful result but they played with young players. I am absolutely sure this will be a very different game."

Kick-off 7.45pm

Television Sky Sports 1

Referee J Moss (Tyne & Wear)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
News
The 43-year-old rapper was stopped at the Lamezia Terme International Airport in Calabria after he had played a concert in the city on Friday night
people
Sport
Pedro has been linked with a move to Manchester United
transfers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen