Filed: Tuesday, 13th July 2004
By: Gareme Howlett
West Ham's pre-season kicks off in Sweden tonight as Alan Pardew's men embark on the first leg of their three match tour.
Yet with the release of Brian Deane, and the imminent departures of David Connolly (Leicester) and Richard Garcia (released), the Hammers are left with just two first team strikers in Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood.
So who will replace the outgoing forwards? Speculation continues to rage over several targets, who we look at below.
Teddy Sheringham (free)
The former Millwall, Tottenham and Manchester United striker is know to be a strong target of Alan Pardew's - however, his 'less-than-friendly' relationship with Hammers fans could scupper this one, despite the Hammers being favourites to land the former Champions League and World Cup star. Would effectively replace Brian Deane as the squad's 'experienced pro'.
Nicky Forster (Reading)
30-year-old journeyman Forster is known to be a favourite of Alan Pardew, who managed the striker during his tenure at Reading. Having previously played at footballing hotspots such as Hythe, Gillingham, Brentford and Birmingham Forster certainly doesn't carry the pedigree of the likes of Teddy Sheringham, but is certainly one Pardew would be prepared to take a gamble on. And as many of his signings have showed, Pardew is not afraid to take a little gamble - especially where a negligible fee is involved (think Nowland, McAnuff and Walker).
Darren Byfield (free)
Out of contract at the Stadium of Light (and unlikely to be offered a new one after recently threatening the Black Cats with legal action), the strong centre-forward is thought to be interesting Pardew. Another on the list who always seems to score against us, Byfield is likely to be available for next to nothing. Despite being only 27, Byfield has already played for EIGHT league clubs - only one of which, Aston Villa, play in the top flight.And he made just one start for them in six years.
Lee Trundle (Swansea)
The lardy genius has been linked with a move to East London on several occasions (despite the source appearing to be his agent on at least one occasion). A clearly talented striker but one without the fitness levels for the first division. However Trundle is another player that would be available for very little - another possible (however unlikely) gamble.
Sergei Rebrov (Tottenham)
The forgotten man cost Spurs £11m when he moved to North London in a blaze of glory some four years ago, and was mysteriously linked with a switch across the capital earlier this week. Having slipped out of favour the little Russian has spent time on loan with Turkish side Fenerbache, and will be moving on one way or another within the next 12 months when his contract expires. Any deal would be a loan only, as it is almost certain that the striker would be refused a new permit, having made just 48 starts during his four years with Tottenham - way below the necessary criteria. Most unlikely.
Dean Ashton (Crewe)
Strongly linked with the Hammers last week, this one appears to have cooled a little. However it is clear that the England under-21 has been in discussion with several clubs over his future in recent days, as reported in the local press. Probably the best player on this list, but unfortunately the least likely to sign due to his transfer fee, which would be in the region of £1.5m - a figure way out of Alan Pardew's price range.
Darren Bent (Ipswich)
Another who has been linked with the Hammers in the past, 20-year-old Bent has again seen speculation linking him with a move to East London recently. A first team regular at Portman Road since 2001 and a real fans favourite, Bent would probably cost the Hammers around £750,000. Too much? That remains to be seen.
Marian Pahars (Southampton)
Quality striker capable of mixing it at the top level, and reportedly linked with the Hammers as part of a swap-deal involving Michael Carrick. Started his English career strongly when signing for the Saints back in 1999 but has struggled to make an impact since the arrival of James Beattie and Kevin Phillips. An interesting rumour, if nothing else.
David Bellion (Manchester United)
Another whom the rumour-mill suggests could be on his way to East London on a season-long loan. Having failed to make an impact at Old Trafford the former Sunderland man is currently up for grabs.
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