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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 10, 2006

Hammer blow for injured Etherington

West Ham are set to be without Matthew Etherington for the first three games of the new Premiership season after the winger damaged his knee in training.

Etherington collided with striker Marlon Harewood, who landed on his knee and put him out of action for a month.

'Matty is doubtful for the first three games for sure,' said manager Alan Pardew.

'It is a big blow. He was fantastic for us last year. We felt he really progressed, almost to the verge of the England squad, and he looked terrific in pre-season so it was an unfortunate blow.

'They had a coming together and Marlon landed on his knee - and if Marlon landed on your knee you wouldn't be feeling too clever!'

Etherington could be back for West Ham's UEFA Cup first round tie on September 14 but his injury has brought added urgency to Pardew's hunt for a new winger.

He has already been linked with both Brett Emerton at Blackburn and Newcastle's James Milner, plus a loan bid for Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips.

'I have made it quite obvious I need a wide player in the group. I want a player who is of the same calibre as Matt Etherington and Yossi Benayoun,' said Pardew.

'We have had a few routes closed on us. There are still a few options but I want to make sure I bring in the right player.'

West Ham are due to take on Olympiakos at Upton Park this Saturday - providing the Greek side can get into the country - but Pardew will not be in a position to name his strongest side.

'We have had a strange pre-season, not what I envisaged and we are not where I want to be,' he admitted.

'I have got players who have really just come back (to training) this week and I include in that Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Nigel Reo-Coker and Yossi Benayoun.

'We haven't really played our team yet this pre-season and I don't think we will play our team on Saturday against Olympiakos either. So far it is not really ideal.'