Hitz: Tough times are behind me
The Germany midfielder was the club's marquee signing last summer, arriving from Italian giants Lazio on a free transfer in the hope that he could link up with Scott Parker at the heart of the West Ham midfield. After starring in a successful pre-season, the former Aston Villa midfielder was denied his Hammers debut when he pulled his calf while playing for Germany against Denmark in August. He returned to training eight weeks later but suffered the agony of having the muscle come off the bone completely, ruling him out for four months. The Hammers have struggled without him and currently sit bottom of the Premier League after Sunday's 1-0 defeat to relegation rivals Birmingham. Manager Avram Grant will be looking to ease Hitzlsperger back into action given the serious nature of his injury, but the Germany international has already set his sights on helping the Hammers out of the relegation zone and is looking forward to playing some part in the reserves' game at West Brom tomorrow. "I had a tough time behind me but it's all looking good at the moment and I want to improve, first of all to be fully fit and then to help the team to stay in this league," Hitzlsperger told West Ham TV online. "Although I haven't played yet for the club, I am looking forward to the first game playing in the West Ham United shirt and hopefully it will be soon." While he has been out, Hitzlsperger has had time to look over West Ham's plans for the Olympic Stadium and he hopes the club's bid is successful. He said: "When we go away from home there are always some nice places we play at, but it would be fantastic to have this as our home ground to play at every other week. "It wouldn't only benefit West Ham United as a football club and the supporters of the club, it's also important for athletics and for the community to show that there are other things besides football." West Ham's preparations for this weekend's crucial Premier League game at West Brom have been thrown into disarray by a number of injuries to key players. On-loan striker Robbie Keane has had to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland's match against Wales with a calf problem and is a doubt for Saturday's match against the managerless Midlands side. James Tomkins pulled his calf in the warm-up before Sunday's game and is expected to be out for two weeks while his replacement, Matthew Upson, suffered a recurrence of an Achilles injury and is likely to be out for this weekend too. That leaves Grant with Winston Reid and Manuel Da Costa as his only two fit centre-halves. West Ham were left with five players on the bench for Sunday's game after it emerged that Julien Faubert had left Upton Park before kick-off upon hearing he would not be part of the squad. Grant wanted Faubert to replace Upson on the bench after Tomkins' late withdrawal but the Frenchman had already left the stadium. The 27-year-old insists he had to rush to hospital after his son was taken ill with a chest infection. The club will now look into the circumstances surrounding Sunday's events before deciding whether or not to fine him. "This is an internal matter for the club," a club spokesman said on Tuesday.