West Ham United should have been in the middle of their winter break now but due to their 1-1 draw with Sky Bet Championship outfit Bristol City nine days ago, they will have to travel to Ashton Gate tonight to see if they can finish the job and progress through to Round Four.
The winners of the tie will be at home to either Premier League side Nottingham Forest or Sky Bet League One outfit Blackpool on Friday 26 January with kick-off at 7:45pm.
The Hammers have not been in action since the meeting in Stratford as their Premier League hiatus took place last weekend, whereas Liam Manning’s side were beaten 2-0 at Preston North End just three days ago. This means that the visitors will be the fresher of the two sides going into the game.
Having said that, since replacing Nigel Pearson as Head-Coach of the Robins back in November, Manning has got them on a run which has seen a gradual progression up the Sky Bet Championship table. David Moyes’ men found them to be a tough nut to crack in Stratford and it could well be the same here but they will be hoping to progress all the same. If the encounter ends level tonight, then extra time will be needed. If the teams still remain deadlocked after the further thirty minutes then the tie will be settled by a penalty shoot-out
If the Irons can come through the tie it will give them momentum to take into their return to Premier League action and the trip to Bramall Lane to face newly-promoted Sheffield United in just five days time. The Blades are currently bottom of the table.
Jarrod Bowen has not yet recovered from the leg injury he sustained late in the game nine days ago and will not feature, meaning Danny Ings is likely to get a rare start. Maxwel Cornet will also hope to be in contention.
Assistant manager Billy McKinlay also confirmed in his pre-match news conference on Monday that youngsters Kaelan Casey, Oliver Scarles, Callum Marshall and Divin Mubama will be involved in the matchday squad. However, it is unknown whether Konstantinos Mavropanos will be fit enough to retain his place from the encounter nine days ago after the former Arsenal defender had to be replaced, due to picking up a chest injury. Łukasz Fabiański will retain his place, while either Ben Johnson, or Aaron Cresswell may be selected ahead of Kurt Zouma.
The match is a 7:45pm kick-off and it will be screened by the BBC with live coverage beginning at 7:30pm. The referee is Darren England.