Fleetwood v Southend preview

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce will welcome Yossi Benayoun back

into his squad to face Liverpool in the Premier League on

Sunday.

The former Reds midfielder missed the Hammers’ 3-1 win over

Chelsea as he was ineligible to appear against his parent club.

Andy Carroll (knee) could be missing for two months but would

not have been able to feature against Liverpool due to the terms of

his loan, whilst Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder), Alou Diarra (thigh) and

Jack Collison (knee) are all definitely out.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is suspended for the trip to Upton

Park after accumulating five bookings.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has played midfielder Jonjo Shelvey in a

‘false nine’ position before and could do so again as a stop-gap

with no other senior strikers fit.

Captain Steven Gerrard, left out of the Europa League squad

which beat Udinese in Italy because of illness, will be restored at

Upton Park as will the rested Daniel Agger and Lucas Leiva.

Graham Alexander will lead Fleetwood for the first time against

their fellow League Two promotion chasers.

Former Scotland international Alexander, who played over 1,000

games in a professional career that came to a close with Preston

last season, was installed as Micky Mellon’s successor on

Thursday.

Alexander can expect to have Cod Army captain Steve McNulty fit

after the centre-back hobbled off during the closing stages of last

weekend’s 3-2 FA Cup defeat to Aldershot – a third straight

competitive loss that ultimately cost Mellon his job.

McNulty has shaken off a calf injury and could be joined by Rob

Atkinson at the heart of the defence.

Atkinson was cup-tied last time out following his loan spell

with Accrington this term, although he must displace versatile

Crystal Palace loanee Alex Marrow in order to start.

Curtis Obeng (knee) should be passed fit to feature on either

the right-hand side of defence or midfield, but the match is

expected to come too soon for striker Jon Parkin (hamstring).

Gavin Tomlin and Mark Phillips are two of a handful of players

who face fitness tests for Southend.

Forward Tomlin and defender Phillips both missed Tuesday’s 2-1

Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success over Brentford due to injury, and

the pair face a race against time to be fit to line up against The

Cod Army.

But they are not the only ones, with midfielder John Spicer

(virus) among those also struggling.

Manager Paul Sturrock told the club’s official website: “We’ve

got a few niggles and knocks, we’ve now played 26 games in just a

few months so it’s tough.

“Gavin and Mark will have fitness tests along with a few others

while there have been a couple like John Spicer who have been

suffering from a virus.”

Midfielder Michael Timlin definitely misses out having picked up

his fifth booking of the season in midweek, incurring an automatic

one-match suspension.

Marc Laird, however, does return to the fold having been

cup-tied against Brentford.