Kovac set for debut at last

CZECH international Radoslav Kovac is set to make his West Ham debut at Middlesbrough tonight (Wednesday) as the Hammers look to book their place in the quarter-final of the FA Cup. The 29-year-old on loan from Spartak Moscow, has had just one 90-minute m

CZECH international Radoslav Kovac is set to make his West Ham debut at Middlesbrough tonight (Wednesday) as the Hammers look to book their place in the quarter-final of the FA Cup.

The 29-year-old on loan from Spartak Moscow, has had just one 90-minute match for his country in Morocco since joining the Hammers, but he is likely to replace Mark Noble in the line-up tonight.

Noble, who has been struggling with his fitness over the last two or three games, is suspended for Sunday's home clash with Manchester City, and with Luis Boa Morte still injured, it seems likely that Kovac will come in for both games.

James Tomkins is set to deputise for the injured James Collins again at the heart of the West Ham defence, while Lucas Neill will return at right back after his one-match ban, leaving the unfortunate Jonathan Spector on the sidelines.


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Tomkins is certainly raring to go tonight, but knows that manager Gianfranco Zola may have other plans for the centre back position.

"I've played the last two FA Cup games, so it would be nice to play, but nothing is guaranteed, so if I get my chance I will give it my all," explained Tomkins after Saturday's unlucky 2-1 defeat at Bolton.

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Spector may have to settle for a place on the bench tonight, but he is still keen to see the side do well.

"It is a great incentive for us," said the American defender. "We've had a good cup run this year and we want to continue that.

"It is a game that we will go looking to win and we have every chance to."

Zola declared that Carlton Cole came through Saturday's match without any problems and will face Boro, but the boss will certainly be looking for a better standard of finishing after the problems they incurred at Bolton.

He is confident though: "Carlton is strong and wants to play and I think we can definitely win this match," said Zola.

The game kicks-off at 8.10pm and is live on ITV1.

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