West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic indicated Thursday afternoon that his team will be traveling to Dubai for training after their match against West Bromwich Albion this weekend.
With the FA Cup fifth round coming the following week and the Hammers eliminated from the competition in January, the club will have a two week gap in fixtures. That has enabled the Croatian manager to plan a trip abroad so his players could prepare for the tail end of their season.
“We are going to train more in Dubai than we would if we were here,” Bilic said. “And it’s not a question of where you are going, it’s a question of what you are doing while you are there. The players will have some free time of course, to clear their heads and recharge the batteries, which psychologically is important for the remainder of the season.”
Bilic mentioned how it is common for teams in England to go on trips when the months of February and March come. And indeed, that is the case, as early exits from the FA Cup serve almost as “the winter break” the Premier League/English professional clubs don’t have that the other UEFA big five leagues/countries contain.
“Since I have been here, we haven’t had a trip like this,” he said. “Last year we couldn’t go anywhere because we progressed to the FA Cup quarter-finals. Now we have a two-week gap between our games and we are going to Dubai, for a few reasons, but mainly to do some important training. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture, and I’m sure this trip will be of great benefit to us.”
The Irons boss also indicated that Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate returned to training Thursday morning and will be ready to play Saturday against West Brom. However, there are questions as to whether Andy Carroll will be available after coming off early in the 3-1 win at Southampton.
“This is the only week he has not trained with us since he came back from injury that ruled him out for a long time,” Bilic said. “You have to find a balance for every player, especially Andy who has had a history of injuries. The players have to train to stay fit and to prevent injuries.”
“He felt his groin and we didn't want to take a risk so we will make a decision on Friday on whether he will be available for Saturday. It is not something major because if it was bigger it would rule him out of the game. It is still open and is not a big injury. Basically it is very similar to the one he had against Middlesbrough and he played after that.
“There is no point talking about a percentage and hopefully he will train on Friday and we will make a decision for Saturday.”