'It's not Mayweather v McGregor' says Bilic of his showdown with Benitez

By dsguser
25 August 2017

Slaven Bilic has played down his Saturday showdown with Rafael Benitez by insisting: "It's hardly Mayweather versus McGregor!"

The sporting spotlight this weekend will be firmly fixed on boxing champion Floyd Mayweather's controversial bout with UFC star Conor McGregor in Las Vegas on Sunday morning.

But around 12 hours earlier another grudge match takes place when Newcastle manager Benitez faces West Ham boss Bilic.

It may look a distinctly lightweight clash on paper, with the Magpies and the Hammers without a point to their name so far.

But Benitez, frustrated by Newcastle's transfer business this summer has - not for the first time - been linked with under-pressure Bilic's job this week.

However, Bilic insisted: "I don't pay any attention to that. To talk about it after two games of the season is a bit ridiculous.

"It's a single game, it's a new game. They need points, I need points. They are looking forward to the game, they are playing at home, they lost their first couple of league games, as we did.

"But do you think it's like Mayweather against McGregor? No. It makes no difference."

Nevertheless, Bilic may have a heavyweight presence in attack to call on in the shape of Andy Carroll.

The former Toon striker has trained all week following yet another injury lay-off, and could make his first appearance of the season at St James' Park.

"It's very tempting to play him," added Bilic.

"If he looks to me fit enough, of course he's going to be in the squad. If he doesn't look fit enough he isn't going to be in the squad - it's that simple.

"When he is fit we all know he is a major player."

Midfielder Manuel Lanzini will be in the squad after a knee injury, but defender Winston Reid has a calf problem and winger Marko Arnautovic is still suspended.

West Ham United Match Reports


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