Hammers must break Reebok hoodoo

WHEN you are looking to bounce back from two defeats on the trot and you are missing your star striker, one of the last places you would choose to go to on a cold Tuesday night is Bolton s Reebok Stadium. Even if you visit the Reebok in August or May, th

WHEN you are looking to bounce back from two defeats on the trot and you are missing your star striker, one of the last places you would choose to go to on a cold Tuesday night is Bolton's Reebok Stadium.

Even if you visit the Reebok in August or May, there seems to be an icy wind blowing around the stadium, and it is usually an icy reception that greets the West Ham players when they travel to this part of Lancashire - they have never won a match at the Reebok.

It is tough to make a case for West Ham to grab anything from tonight's game either. Matty Upson is still struggling to be fit, Mark Noble is suspended after his two yellow cards at Birmingham City on Saturday, while with Cole and Zavon Hines both still out, it piles the pressure on Guillermo Franco to add to the three goals he has accumulated this season.

Jack Collison is likely to return in place of Noble, while Kieron Dyer is also looking for a starting place after impressing as a substitute at St Andrew's, but manager Gianfranco Zola is reluctant to risk the former Newcastle United midfielder from the start.

"Kieron Dyer is all about fitness," said the boss. "Right now we don't think he can play the whole game, because it might impact on his injury situation, that is why we try to use him as best we can.

"When the opposition is going down, he can be an impact player late in the game. We'll use him that way until he gets to the stage where we can use him even more."

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West Ham have already lost at the Reebok this season, although they came perilously close to breaking their duck at the ground. Herita Ilunga's goal gave them the advantage until the 86th minute when Kevin Davies equalised, before two extra time goals saw Bolton through in the Carling Cup third round.

The Hammers will need to solve the problems of Davies and his big mates if they are to glean anything from this game. Bolton pounded West Ham with a series of corners and the Londoners finally crumbled under the pressure.

They cannot afford to allow that to happen, but their past record at the Reebok suggests it just might.

With Chelsea coming on Sunday, this is a vital game for West Ham to get something from, but it is vital for second from bottom Bolton as well and that may be enough to swing it their way.

Prediction: Bolton 2 West Ham 1

One to watch: Kevin Davies.

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