Curbs: cup run can revitalise Hammers

WEST HAM manager Alan Curbishley believes an FA Cup run would help galvanise the club in their fight against relegation from the Premiership. The Hammers enjoy a break from the frenzy of the Premiership dogfight to take on Watford in the fourth round of the FA Cup today.

And Curbishley is confident a victory could spark the change in fortune his side so badly needs.

“West Ham fans realise more than most what a cup run can do. It galvanised the club last year when they reached the final,” said Curbishley.

“We need to start getting points in the league and we are hoping the FA Cup will become part of the process. The win over Brighton in the last round gave us a lift. It came on the back of the Reading game (which West Ham lost 6-0) — we needed to bounce back.

“We got a result there and then we were a minute away from getting a result over Fulham and were half a minute away from being in a good position at half-time up at Newcastle. We have picked up a bit in the last three games, scored a few goals and we are looking forward to that continuing tomorrow.

“We have a tough game against Watford who will be buoyed by their result over Blackburn in midweek. But I am grateful we have got a home draw.” Curbishley believes Carlton Cole could emerge as a key player for West Ham during the second half of the season.

Cole was signed from Chelsea in the summer but had made just one league start before Curbishley’s arrival. The former England U-21 striker came into the side for the Reading game and has now scored two in the last three games.

Curbishley worked with Cole when he was on loan at Charlton and believes he is now capable of finally maximising his potential.

“He is a player who has got great ability, power and pace, he is a great athlete, a decent finisher and he works hard,” said Curbishley.

“I firmly believe he should have stayed at Charlton for a second year because that would have probably been the year he played a lot football, which is what he is craving. He went to Aston Villa and didn’t get a lot of football and he didn’t get much football when he went back to Chelsea.

“And he hadn’t played much for West Ham before I got here. I spoke to him and said that he had not shown what he is about since he has been at West Ham. Now that may be his fault, it may a lack of selection.

“The one thing he is lacking is the confidence and concentration of playing every week. He is being given a chance and he has decided he will try to grab it. All players need to be playing with confidence and he really does need to settle down and be given the chance now.”

Cole seems likely to start with Bobby Zamora against Watford, with Marlon Harewood out suspended and Carlos Tevez recovering from a calf injury.

But West Ham could head into the game without a recognised centre-back available. Anton Ferdinand is struggling with a calf injury while Danny Gabbidon and James Collins (both groin) are long-term casualties and new signing Calum Davenport is cup-tied.

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