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The low down on West Ham

Posted on 10 September 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

West Ham will arrive at the Lane in the somewhat undeserved position as the Premiership's basement team.

It's hardly a reflection of a side that has come back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Manchester United and grabbed a draw at Sunderland in its last two outings.

Boss Harry Redknapp claims this side is the best seen at Upton Park for years and it is certainly packed with talent. Managers talk of the mix of youth and experience and Hammers certainly have that from veterans Stuart Pearce and Nigel Winterburn at the back to England's future in midfield in the shape of Michael Carrick and Joe Cole.

Winterburn won the lot in 13 years at Arsenal before arriving for a nominal fee from Highbury in the summer. Croatian superstar Davor Suker trod the same path from North London and the pair joined promising French striker Frederic Kanoute as Redknapp's major captures in the summer.

Shaka Hislop is back in goal after breaking his leg last season and defensively, Redknapp looks certain to welcome back Rio Ferdinand at the Lane after a recent hip injury. Winterburn and Pearce will also play in front of Hislop but Redknapp will be without suspended Igor Stimac. Expect multi-talented Trevor Sinclair to fill a wing-back role and Darren Peacock, on loan from Blackburn, could also feature.

Hammers' midfield could be a fixture internationally with England for years to come. Everyone knows of the talent of Joe Cole, 19, who has started the last two games alongside Michael Carrick, also 19. By contrast, Frank Lampard seems a veteran but he is still only 22. Northern Ireland midfielder Steve Lomas will add a bit of bite.

There is no shortage of bite up front either with Paolo Di Canio a constant threat. The former Juventus and AC Milan forward has rightly become a hero in East London after his £2m switch from Sheffield Wednesday in 1998 and his wonderful displays last season were capped by him winning the goal of the season award for a volley against Wimbledon.

World Cup Golden Boot winner Suker has quickly become a favourite after his last-minute equaliser against Manchester United at Upton Park while the pace of Kanoute, 23 and signed for £3.7m from Lyon after a loan spell last season, has to be watched.

Players on the way out in the summer included Marc-Vivien Foe (£6m to Lyon), Paulo Wanchope (£3.5m to Manchester City) and Neil Ruddock (undisclosed fee to Crystal Palace).