Sam Allardyce hits back at 'delusional' West Ham fans


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The Independent Football

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has described the fans who have criticised the team's style of play as "delusional" as they prepare for tomorrow's crucial-looking encounter with second-placed Reading.

The Hammers sit one point and one place below the Royals in the npower Championship table with seven games to go. With leaders Southampton five points clear, the duo are arguably fighting it out for the second automatic promotion slot.

West Ham's win over Peterborough in midweek was their 11th away victory in the league this season, equalling a club record, but it came on the back of five draws in a row.

Allardyce has been criticised for not playing 'the West Ham way' but insisted he was not listening to any negative comments surrounding his team.

"There has never been a 'West Ham way' shown to me, not by anybody that's worked with West Ham who I have inherited," he told a press conference.

"I've spoken to them all and none of them can tell me or define what the West Ham way is. So it is a bit of a delusion."

Allardyce will leave it as late as possible to assess Abdoulaye Faye's fitness after he was withdrawn at half-time during the Hammers' victory over Peterborough on Tuesday due to a head injury. An X-ray has revealed he has not suffered a fractured skull as first feared.

Danny Collins replaced Faye on Tuesday night and will deputise should he be deemed unfit.

Joey O'Brien was also substituted at half-time during the Peterborough game as a precaution, but is expected to be fit to face Reading. Julien Faubert is on standby should O'Brien miss out.

Reading are hopeful that striker Jason Roberts will be available after the former Blackburn forward suffered a hamstring injury during the 3-1 defeat at Peterborough last week and missed the victory over Blackpool.

On-loan Arsenal starlet Benik Afobe deputised for Roberts against the Tangerines, but he may drop to the bench if the veteran hitman recovers in time.

Blackpool host leaders Southampton in the evening kick-off, and will be without on-loan West Brom striker Roman Bednar who is facing the prospect of his season being over. He suffered knee ligament damage in last week's 3-3 draw with Leicester, but the full extent of the injury will not become clear until swelling around the joint has subsided.

Craig Mackail-Smith returns for Brighton ahead of their key clash with play-off rivals Middlesbrough after recovering from a virus.

The striker sat out the Seagulls' 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest due to the illness and will compete with Sam Vokes for a starting spot.

Middlesbrough skipper Matthew Bates is awaiting the result of tests on the knee he damaged in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Ipswich amid fears he has suffered the fifth cruciate ligament injury of his career.

It proved a costly trip to Portman Road as Bates' central defensive partner Seb Hines also failed to finish the game with concussion. Hines could return at the Amex Stadium, but Mowbray has recalled Scotland international Stephen McManus from his loan spell at Bristol City.

Striker Marvin Emnes came out of the Ipswich game with what is hoped is a minor knee problem and his condition is being assessed, as is that of Faris Haroun, who is nearing a return from a hamstring injury.

Elsewhere, play-off hopefuls Cardiff are at home to Millwall, while Hull will be aiming to keep their top-six prospects realistic with a home win over Coventry, who have won one and drawn four of their last five in their battle to avoid the drop.

Portsmouth are at home to Burnley, Leeds take on Watford at Elland Road, Leicester travel to Peterborough and Crystal Palace host Nottingham Forest. Ipswich take on Barnsley at Portman Road.