Zamora likely to be judged from bench

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The Independent Online

Given that he scored the only goal when he visited Valley Parade with Brighton a year ago, Bradford City fans may not be too disappointed to learn that Bobby Zamora may not be facing them in his new colours when West Ham visit Yorkshire today.

Alan Pardew's excitement at having signed the 22-year-old Zamora as part of the deal that took Jermain Defoe to Tottenham is unlikely to extend to giving his new charge a starting place this afternoon. "Bobby played for the reserves in the week and scored and he's a player with a lot of potential," Pardew said. "But Brian Deane has been doing so well lately that I think it's only fair we start with him."

Zamora, who also put two penalties past Bradford in the 3-2 Brighton win at the Withdean Stadium in November 2002, remains a player of unknown possibilities at the top level. In 18 senior appearances for Tottenham, who had paid £1.5 million for him, he managed only one goal, coincidentally the extra-time winner against West Ham in their Carling Cup meeting last October.

However, despite facing competition from Deane, the prolific David Connolly and a still-improving Marlon Harewood, Zamora believes he can redeem the reputation built around his staggering record for Brighton, where he scored 83 goals in a mere 136 games.

"I don't see this as a step backwards," he said. "I know people will put that twist on it and say I didn't do enough at Spurs but the way I see it is that I didn't get much of a chance. This is a big opportunity for me now and I couldn't be happier. I wouldn't have even thought twice about leaving Spurs for any other club, but this is like home for me. I was born near here, my mum and dad live in the area and this was the team I supported as a kid."

Zamora may have to be content with starting on the bench, but supporters are likely to see more of Jobi McAnuff, who became the third Wimbledon player to move to West Ham in under a fortnight, joining Nigel Reo-Coker and Adam Nowland, making it eight signings since Alan Pardew took charge.

With Mikele Leigertwood also gone, signed by Crystal Palace, Wimbledon have lost four players recently, leaving Stuart Murdoch the near-impossible task of keeping his club in the First Division with a dwindling squad and a 12-point gap between themselves and safety.

Alongside their plight, the East Midlands rivals Derby and Nottingham Forest may argue their worries are rather smaller, although there is a strong chance at least one of them will find themselves in the Second Division next season unless better results come soon.

However, Derby, for whom the ex-Leeds and Middlesbrough striker Noel Whelan is set for a home debut against Cardiff, this week revealed losses of £27.7 million over the last two seasons. Forest, for whom the on-loan Newcastle striker Michael Chopra is likely to face Coventry at the City Ground, need to end an alarming slide that has seen them go 13 League matches without a win and fail to score a goal from open play in two months.

Wimbledon, meanwhile, have the unenviable task of taking on the leaders Norwich today. West Bromwich, the only side still keeping pace with Nigel Worthington's side, go to Preston bolstered by the return of Jason Koumas and with their new strikers Morten Skouba, on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Delroy Facey in their squad.

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