Redknapp relies on a dedicated Di Canio

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The Independent Online

Amid the fall-out at Stamford Bridge last week it was soon forgotten that Chelsea had made a £4m offer for one Italian whose services have never been more than fully appreciated by his London club. Yet Paolo Di Canio's performance for West Ham United in their 1-0 Premiership defeat on Monday was characteristic of of a player troubled by transfer speculation.

Amid the fall-out at Stamford Bridge last week it was soon forgotten that Chelsea had made a £4m offer for one Italian whose services have never been more than fully appreciated by his London club. Yet Paolo Di Canio's performance for West Ham United in their 1-0 Premiership defeat on Monday was characteristic of of a player troubled by transfer speculation.

The Hammers duly rejected the offer and their manager, Harry Redknapp, would want the all-round claret and blue inspiration back to his unpredictable best today against Liverpool at Upton Park. West Ham, bottom of the table after three losses and two draws, are in dire need of win, but Redknapp is confident Di Canio's mind will be fully occupied by Gérard Houllier's red-clad cavaliers. "Paolo wanted to stay and we didn't want him to go," Redknapp said. "He was unsettled by things at Spurs but now that's all history and he will be giving it everything against Liverpool."

Redknapp was disappointed with his team's performance at White Hart Lane, particularly in the second half. "The main reason was that some of the players were dog-tired," said Redknapp. "Players like Freddie Kanouté, Frank Lampard, Trevor Sinclair and Rio Ferdinand had not trained because of injuries. They did well to play at all but you just can't get away with competing in the Premiership for 90 minutes without training in between."

Lampard, bothered by a persistent ankle injury all season, will be missing today while Kanouté and Sinclair are also doubtful. Igor Stimac is eligible again following suspension but is now suffering from a virus.

Liverpool are not without their troubles either, and the form of their goalkeeper, Sander Westerveld, will be under close inspection. Liverpool's defence - the best in the Premiership last term - has leaked eight goals already this season. The Dutchman has not helped his cause by complaining that penalty areas are too congested for him to collect crosses, a weakness exploited by Manchester City last week. After the previous game at Southampton, when Liverpool squandered a three-goal lead, Westerveld accepted blame for the débâcle.

He said: "It's easy for people to say what I should have done and I can understand why people think I had to come for more crosses against City. But if there's no space, then it's best to stay on your line."

Unlike his backline in recent games, Houllier has leapt to the defence of his keeper. "I have every confidence in him. But we should not pick on one player when things go wrong, but look at the whole team and make sure it is not repeated."

Liverpool will be without Sami Hyypia, Patrik Berger, Valdimir Smicer, Titi Camara and the suspended Gary McAllister, but Robbie Fowler and Vegard Heggem return after injury.

Manchester City face Middlesbrough with George Weah back in the fold and Danny Tiatto has shrugged off a groin injury and is available, while Shaun Goater is ready to make his comeback following a knee operation.

Gary Walsh has returned to his former club on loan after Mark Schwarzer broke his thumb in training and is expected to make a second debut for Middlesbrough. Colin Cooper, Gary Pallister and Keith O'Neill all return from injury.

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