Ilunga set to miss Hull clash

WEST HAM travel to Hull City on Saturday for a showdown that is already looking like a relegation six-pointer, WRITES DAVE EVANS. And the Hammers are likely to have to grab a result without the influence of full back Herita Ilunga. The Congo international

WEST HAM travel to Hull City on Saturday for a showdown that is already looking like a relegation six-pointer, WRITES DAVE EVANS.

And the Hammers are likely to have to grab a result without the influence of full back Herita Ilunga.

The Congo international missed the home defeat by Everton after hobbling off with a hamstring injury in the victory over Aston Villa.

But it seems that he has not recovered sufficiently to start training this week, and that would make him very doubtful for the trip to the KC Stadium.

The 27-year-old defender, who had such a superb first season at the club, has played just nine games for the Hammers this term.

He broke his jaw on the opening day of the season at Wolves, missing the next three games, and his latest return was brought to a halt after just eight minutes of the clash against Villa.

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Kieron Dyer is ruled out, also with a hamstring strain, but the rest of the squad have a clean bill of health as they prepare for the biggest match of the season so far.

That means that six-goal striker Carlton Cole is set to return to the starting line-up, partnering Guillermo Franco, with Zavon Hines expected to be on the bench.

A word of warning however, Cole is currently one booking away from a suspension!

Manager Gianfranco Zola must decide who to play at the top of his diamond midfield formation with Luis Jimenez, Mark Noble and Alessandro Diamanti all vying for a place.

Noble is likely to get the nod away from home, with Zola preferring to use his fellow Italian as an impact substitute as he did so impressively against Everton.

A full house is expected at the KC Stadium on Saturday where West Ham crashed to a 1-0 defeat last term.

Zola knows that they cannot afford a similar result this time round against Phil Brown's boys.

A victory would haul themselves out of the relegation zone with a home game against Burnley to come next week.

Anything else is unthinkable, but if the worst happens, it could be a long, hard winter.

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