Defeat at Burnley at the weekend sent West Ham back into the relegation zone and the Hammers are now without a win in their last six games. Boss Gianfranco Zola could give a full debut to Brazilian striker Ilan after he scored on his debut last Saturday while Birmingham striker Kevin Phillips is in contention to start after scoring twice as a substitute against Wolves on Sunday which fired Alex McLeish’s men to another victory in a memorable season.

Quick Check

West Ham United

  • Striker Ilan is hoping to start after scoring on his debut at the weekend.
  • Kieron Dyer is back in contention after hamstring trouble.
  • The Hammers have lost only two of their last 13 games to Birmingham.
  • Daniel Gabbidon is still struggling with a hamstring problem.
  • Zavon Hines is still doubtful with a knee injury.
  • West Ham are without a win in six games.

Birmingham City

  • Kevin Phillips is in contention to start after scoring twice as a substitute against Wolves on Sunday.
  • Birmingham have lost just one of their last 18 games.
  • The Blues’ win against West Ham in December was the first time they have beaten them in six attempts.
  • Lee Bowyer scored the only goal when the two teams met earlier in the season.
  • Striker Christian Benitez is doubtful with an ankle injury.
  • Defender Stuart Parnaby is still sidelined by a back problem.
  • Midfielder Lee Carsley will be out for another fortnight with ankle ligament damage.
  • Striker Garry O’Connor is out for at least another month after complications arising from groin surgery.

Expert Advice

With the word ‘Armageddon’ ringing in his ears, Gianfranco Zola has been left in no doubt by the club’s new owners about what relegation would mean for West Ham this season. While there is no need for a major panic just yet, the Hammers boss will know his side needs to start winning sooner rather than later and he will be hoping his recent investment in three strikers produces the necessary return against Birmingham. As the Blues have proved time and again this season, though, they are no pushovers and their well-organised defence are unlikely to offer too many gifts for the home team. The visitors have found it much harder to score prolifically than keep clean sheets so expect a low-scoring affair, with Betsson’s price of 2.8 for there to under 1.5 goals appearing a value bet.

Bet it!