West Ham United v Birmingham, Wed 10 Feb 2010

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Football News

Striker Benni McCarthy misses West Ham's home match with Birmingham with a knee injury picked up against Burnley on Saturday.

Long-term casualties Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon and Guillermo Franco are still sidelined but Alessandro Diamanti returns and otherwise manager Gianfranco Zola reports a clean bill of health.

Zola took a swipe at West Ham's new owners after David Sullivan announced in the media the entire staff would have to take a pay cut in the summer.

It is thought the manager and players, along with other club staff, will be asked by co-owners Sullivan and David Gold to take a 25% cut to slash the club's £60million wage bill.

An angry Zola, however, criticised the timing of the revelation, coming just 24 hours before West Ham take on Birmingham tomorrow in a vital Premier League match at St Andrew's.

Zola said: "I think the article should have been done at another time, not just before a match like tomorrow (Wednesday). It would have been better to say that at another time and maybe talk to us before talking to a newspaper. That is my feeling."

Zola, who earns £1.9million a year, revealed he had not spoken to the owners, nor had he been consulted about the issue.

But after preparing his players for a match against the club so recently run by Sullivan and Gold, Zola added:

"Personally I can say I am not here for the money. Last year when I signed a contract I didn't even know how much I was going to earn.

"I had a plan and a project and I liked what I was going to do. I didn't know what I was going to earn and then after a while the club called me in about a new contract.

"It's not about money. It is about working for something positive. I aways enjoy working for this club. The money was something that came after."

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish will be forced to change his starting line-up for the first time in 13 games.

Striker Christian Benitez is ruled out with the ankle injury suffered in a challenge from Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann in the weekend derby at St Andrew's.

McLeish has to decide whether to give a rare start to veteran Kevin Phillips, after the 36-year-old came off the substitutes' bench to net twice against Mick McCarthy's side, or to push James McFadden into attack and draft Keith Fahey into the wide left role. Defender Stuart Parnaby is back in the squad after recovering from a back problem.

McLeish insists his Birmingham players will not be distracted by the "sideshow" surrounding the club's owners past and present when they take on West Ham at Upton Park tomorrow evening.

Current City owner Carson Yeung and his aides have been involved in several verbal exchanges with predecessors David Gold and David Sullivan who have now taken charge at the Hammers.

Gold says he wants Gianfranco Zola's side to "whack" Birmingham, who have been beaten just once in 15 league games.

But McLeish's main focus is on trying to ensure Blues gain the victory that would take them to the 40-point mark, which is usually viewed as the yardstick for ensuring top-flight survival for another season.

He said: "I understand there's a few comments flying to and fro and it is an interesting game thrown up against the old owners. They need the points more than we do.

"I've been told what David Gold has said and that's sent shivers down my spine! "But, listen, the two Davids are in it for West Ham - and they have the quality in the squad, no doubt about it."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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James McFadden
Marcus Hahnemann
Premier League
Keith Fahey
Christian Benitez
Gianfranco Zola
Kevin Phillips
Kieron Dyer
Stuart Parnaby

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