West Ham V Wigan at Boleyn Ground - Match Preview

Allardyce: Long-ball label "unfair"

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits he will never be able to shake off his reputation for being a long-ball merchant.

The Hammers will pass the all-important 40-point mark on Saturday if they beat Wigan at Upton Park.

Much has been made of Allardyce's supposed reliance on long-ball tactics this season, but the fact remains that his team are on course for a mid-table finish while Wigan, who pass the ball around more, are three points from safety with six games left.

The accusation that Allardyce's teams play too direct is one that has dogged him since he took up his first full management post in England with Blackpool almost 20 years ago.

The 58-year-old admitted this morning that Andy Carroll's chances of playing for England could be tainted by the fact that he plays for one of his teams, but the West Ham boss has given up trying to persuade people his long-ball tag is unjust.

"I don't fight against it (the reputation he has gained), I accepted it many years ago," the West Ham boss said. "I wouldn't encourage anyone to get tagged with that label because once you have got it, it doesn't leave you.

"The perception is totally and utterly wrong because we are where we are because we have many different tactical plans.

"I have been in management for many years now and I have been able to tactically set up against the opposition whichever way it might be.

"At some stage it might be direct. That causes the opposition problems. Manchester United played direct against us on Wednesday night, but everyone chose to ignore it.

"But they played direct better than we can because they have better passers so that's plain and simple for everyone to understand. Our form has been exceptional this season."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez comes up against a rejuvenated Andy Carroll believing there will always be a place in the game for an old-fashioned English number nine.

But Martinez insists players have to use whatever strengths they have to their own advantage and will be preparing his defenders for more of the same.

"He is a potent threat and he's always been a threat," said the Latics manager.

"We have seen him at two previous clubs show the same power and strength and he did it for England at the Euros and was very impressive so I don't think it is a surprise to anyone."

Martinez has no new injury worries for his side's third match in a week but may choose to freshen things up again at Upton Park.

The Spaniard made just two changes for Wednesday's defeat at Manchester City, bringing back goalkeeper Joel Robles and striker Franco di Santo.

Forward Callum McManaman could be set for a recall but Roman Golobart remains out of the picture after twisting an ankle in training.

West Ham will once again be without midfielder Joe Cole as he struggles to recover from his hamstring injury.

Defender James Tomkins (calf) and full-back George McCartney (knee) are also out.

Midfielder Mark Noble may make his first start since February after recovering from a shoulder injury to come off the bench against United.

Source: PA

Source: PA