Allardyce looking for Dubai lift

BY foxsports • February 12, 2013

Ryan Esson looks set to keep hold of the Inverness number one slot for the Scottish Premier League clash with Kilmarnock after boss Terry Butcher hinted he will be his first-choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the season.

Esson missed four months with a hip injury but replaced Antonio Reguero for recent defeats to Kilmarnock and Celtic.

Butcher, whose side has a clean bill of health for Kilmarnock's visit to the Highlands, said: "Ryan has great experience and it was my call to put him back in. But Antonio is pushing him all the way."

Rangers target Cammy Bell will sit out a second game in succession for Kilmarnock as he recovers from a hip injury.

The goalkeeper, linked with a pre-contract switch to Ibrox, was replaced for Saturday's 2-0 win over Motherwell by understudy Kyle Letheran and will once more watch on from the stands as his team-mates take on Inverness at the Caledonian Stadium on Wednesday night.

Cillian Sheridan and Rory McKeown have also been ruled out of the match after they also missed the Motherwell encounter at Rugby Park.

The Irons are without a Premier League match now until they host Tottenham on February 25, when they will be seek to maintain safe distance between themselves and the battle for survival.

Such a trip proved the perfect tonic for Allardyce's squad 12 months ago when, on their return from the Middle East, they lost just one of the remaining 14 npower Championship games as West Ham secured promotion back to the top-flight through the play-offs.

Allardyce is in no doubt the five-day break will prove to be of great benefit.

"It worked last year, we had a fantastic finish to the season and I still think the trip that we had at this time last year was a big benefit in the end for getting us promoted into the Premier League," Allardyce said on West Ham TV.

"I have talked to a lot of managers and they have already taken the opportunity to get away when they can, a few more (teams) are going around the same time as us and some more afterwards.

"Nearly everybody does it today which obviously is a benefit to you and the team, and the results when you come back."

Allardyce maintains the squad will reap the benefits as they look to get Sunday's 2-1 defeat at relegation-battlers Aston Villa out of their system, which was a fourth loss in six league games.

"When they are in gloves and hats, it is hard to keep them warm, you have to keep them going. It is not an ideal environment," he said.

"When the lads can train in short sleeves and shorts, they don't want to finish training, they just want to carry on. You get an awful lot more out of them.

"The benefits mentally will be massive. The pressure on players today is enormous in the Barclays Premier League, it is all around you, all the time, 24/7.

"So to go away and recuperate physically and mentally is a big, big thing for us."

Striker Carlton Cole is in no doubt the break will boost players' stamina levels.

"The boys will be re-charged and reinvigorated," he said.

"We keep focused on training and doing the right things, but the difference is that you benefit from the warmer weather and it is in a different environment, just a change and it mixes it up for all the lads.

"I have always found it positive and we have come back to good results after trips like this.

"It is a chance for the team to also look at what we have done so far and what there is still to be done, talking and looking at this all together."

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson refused to be drawn on whether West Ham had moved a step closer to moving into the Olympic Stadium.

Reports suggest the Irons have agreed a compromise following demands from Johnson - who is also chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation - over a share in profits were the Premier League club to be sold in the future.

Speaking to ITV, Johnson said: "I can't go into the details because negotiation is going on, but I am very confident that there will be a good outcome whatever happens, that we will have a fantastic future for the stadium - as I constantly say - with or without Association Football."


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