West Ham United are optimistic that Pedro Obiang will be available for Sunday's (27 November) Premier League trip to Manchester United. The Spaniard has become an important midfield component since Slaven Bilic switched to a three-man defensive system, although his status for Old Trafford had appeared doubtful due to a lingering ankle problem that forced him to miss training.
"From the Spurs game, we had Pedro who has been playing with an ankle injury since Everton," Bilic told reporters when asked for an injury update at his pre-match press conference held on Friday morning. "He didn't train for a couple of days but he's back and training with us today and hopefully he'll be OK. Apart from that, it's all good."
West Ham are expected to remain without injured quintet Andy Carroll, Gokhan Tore, Sam Byram, Arthur Masuaku and Reece Oxford this weekend, while Winston Reid will again serve a one-match suspension. The influential vice-captain was harshly shown a second yellow card during the closing stages of that last-gasp defeat to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane after he was adjudged to have elbowed match-winner Harry Kane.
Such a devastating loss, which came after goalkeeper Darren Randolph failed to deal with Heung-min Son's late cross and substitute Havard Nordtveit foolishly conceded a stoppage-time penalty, left the Hammers 17th and just a solitary point clear of the relegation zone. A difficult start to life at the Olympic Stadium has rather taken the shine off affable cult hero Bilic's tenure following an impressive debut season that saw a rejuvenated team qualify for Europe and shake the long-ball tag earned under Sam Allardyce thanks largely to the tremendous form of Dimitri Payet, but the Croatian insists that he does not fear the sack.
"No – I feel the pressure of course, because we are not delivering and performing enough to get points to feel happy," he added. "But I see the improvement, I see the team that is hungry and alive and the points were there for us in a very difficult away game. That's what I'm concentrated on and not to make mistakes like we did against Spurs."
Bilic was also questioned regarding the likelihood of goal-shy striker Simone Zaza remaining in east London after the January transfer window. The Italian international has yet to find the back of the net in 10 appearances across all competitions since joining West Ham on an initial €5m season-long loan from Juventus. That could automatically turn into a permanent deal worth €23m (£19.5m, $24.3m) after an unspecified number of top-flight outings and the manager still has confidence in his abilities.
"I believe in him. He's our player and it's not only him but we need him to, with the help of teammates, to start producing and doing what we got him for. If he starts or doesn't start games, it has nothing to do with the clause but only on his training performances and performances in games."