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McCarthy winning battle of the bulge

West Ham United striker Benni McCarthy has lost 7kg during the international break and is closing in on full fitness.

Grant may miss Stoke clash

McCarthy, 32, joined West Ham from Blackburn in February but he made little impact during the run-in and, after putting on weight, he failed to make South Africa's World Cup squad.

However, after he was warned he may not be paid if he failed to shed some pounds, McCarthy is now in line for a comeback.

Hammers co-owner David Sullivan told ESPNsoccernet: "Everyone at the club is extremely pleased that Benni has trained extremely hard since returning to the club. He's lost nearly 7kg of weight and we are all confident he'll have a major impact on the pitch this season. He is eager to play his first 90 minutes."

McCarthy may feature against Stoke a week on Saturday or the Carling Cup tie against Sunderland the following Tuesday.

Only two weeks ago, Sullivan had warned: "It's like a jockey being overweight. He can't ride a horse and no-one is going to pay him. I think we are fully within our rights to say, 'You are not honouring your side of the contract'.

"We are not being unrealistic. We've given him a target of losing a kilo a week. He has to lose five or six more kilos. He is training very hard so he must be eating or drinking something very wrong. Short of spending 24 hours with him, we have to assume that.

"You expect him to turn up in a state to be a footballer. We are not starving him. It's just, 'Don't eat ice cream, don't eat cakes, don't drink wine'."

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