Thomas Hitzlsperger is set to finally make his debut for the Hammers after joining on a free transfer from Lazio in June of last year. The midfielder has been out since the summer with a thigh injury he sustained in Germany’s international friendly against Denmark, mere days before the start of the Premier League season.
The midfielder recently played 70 minutes of a reserve game against Chelsea, who saw their own FA Cup campaign come to an end on Saturday. West Ham manager Avram Grant has revealed that Hitzlsperger will definitely play a part in Monday’s tie, telling The Guardian: “I don’t know how long, but he will play.”
Matthew Upson (Achilles) is a doubt for the fifth round clash, as is fellow defender James Tomkins (calf).
Robbie Keane (calf) and Peter Kurucz (knee) are long-term injuries and won’t be making an appearance for the Hammers.
Possible starting XI: Green; Jacobsen, Reid, Da Costa, Ilunga; Sears, Hitzlsperger, Noble, Barrera; Obinna, Piquionne.
New Burnley manager Eddie Howe is in the enviable position of having almost free reign over who he picks for Monday’s FA Cup tie, with no restrictions from injury or suspension hindering his ability to pick his starting XI.
Just two players will be unavailable for the clash due to being cup-tied: striker Charlie Austin and midfielder Marvin Bartley.
Possible starting XI: Grant; Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox; Marney, Cork, Elliott; Rodriguez, Thompson, Eagles.
Howe confident are Burnley?
Burnley are enjoying their football at the moment, having won four out of their last five games, and Howe is confident that his squad will be a match for the Hammers – who are currently helping to prop up the Premier League in 19th place.
Howe said: “West Ham [is] a game we are looking to do well in. There is a good team spirit and a desire there to achieve something this season. We are building momentum, we are in a good run of form and we want that to continue."
Granted, the Hammers are in poor form but...
United have been less prolific with their form of late, having won only two of their last five fixtures, and Hammers fans won’t be happy to hear that their club have failed to beat Burnley in all competitions whenever the two sides have met since 1973, or that they have failed to progress beyond the fifth round in the FA Cup since reaching the final in 2006. However, they will be buoyed by the fact that the Clarets have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 13 FA Cup ties.
Looking back at the previous meetings between the two sides, each has won 30 games apiece – and come Monday evening when they kick off both will be looking to tip the statistical scales in favour of themselves.