West Ham's Slaven Bilic: Stoke aren't on the beach yet - they're proper hard men

Andy Sims
Both West Ham and Stoke are almost certainly safe from relegation: West Ham United via Getty Images

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has scoffed at suggestions that Saturday's opponents Stoke are already on the beach.

The Potters have been rooted in mid-table all season and have lost five of their last six matches, with only a win over struggling Hull to show for their efforts.

But Bilic knows only too well that City manager Mark Hughes and his assistant, former Hammers defender Mark Bowen, will not allow their players to clock off early.

"A couple of games ago, they had that game against Hull at home and then they were on 36 points and they needed to win that game," said Bilic.

"Now they are on 39 but knowing Mark Hughes, they will not be on a beach. I would like them to be, make no mistake.

"But I remember we played them the last game of last season and they were 10th and they could have been on the beach, big time, but no.

"We were winning and we needed that win to not have go to the Europa League qualifying round, and we tried.

"And then in the second half they turned it around, 2-1, and they celebrated like hell. So no, they are not on the beach.

"The only thing to stop that talk is to say the name of their manager, Mark Hughes, and his assistant, who played with us here, Mark Bowen.

"They are never on the beach. They are hard men, proper hard men and that's the reality, definitely."

Bilic has a mounting end-of-season injury crisis to deal with for the trip to the Potteries.

Andy Carroll's absence comes as little surprise but the Hammers could also be without Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate, Arthur Masuaku and Diafra Sakho.

With Michail Antonio, Pedro Obiang and Angelo Ogbonna already out for the season, Bilic could potentially be missing eight first-team players.

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