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Owls move for McCarthy and Ilunga

Sheffield Wednesday are trying to sign Benni McCarthy on loan from West Ham United, but are only offering a slimmed down cut of the demanded wage for the striker who was deemed too fat.

Wednesday boss Gary Megson wants to sign McCarthy and defender Herita Ilunga on loan as they have both been left out of Avram Grant's 25-man squad, so can only play in the FA Cup until next season.

But the Owls have made it clear they will only contribute £5,000-a-week towards McCarthy's £50,000-a-week salary.

A West Ham insider told ESPNsoccernet: "It is not sure whether either player will drop two divisions, but both need games and to be in the shop window."

McCarthy has struggled with his weight and was heavily fined for failing to meet targets, but has slimmed down in a bid for first team football, however he has not started a game since the Carling Cup win over Stoke in October.

He had an unsuccessful trial with Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers in January. Congo defender Ilunga has also been offered a loan deal at Hillsborough.

Wednesday have not won in the league for two months, slipping to the fringes of the relegation zone.

Megson confirmed his interest following Tuesday night's goalless draw at AFC Bournemouth. He said. "We are trying to get both players in and the two clubs have been in dialogue for a few days. We are obviously facing a battle to convince them to drop down two divisions but we are asking the questions."

Meanwhile, Carlton Cole believes that Thomas Hitzlsperger will be a vital asset in West Ham's bid for survival.

After six months out through injury, Hitzlsperger finally made his Hammers debut on Monday night at Upton Park where he smashed home a 25-yard thunderbolt to set the club on their way to a 5-1 win over Burnley.

"It's fantastic that he's back. He's a great player,'' Cole told West Ham's official website. "He shows what he can do in training and he's going to be a massive asset for us.

"We've missed that. We always rely on Mark Noble, (Radoslav) Kovac and obviously Scotty Parker, but now they've got a bit of support as well from a talented football player and hopefully he can continue his form. He scored a cracking goal to set us off and that's what we all needed.''

Cole thinks last week's team-bonding session, which saw the squad take part in clay-pigeon shooting and go-karting in Newmarket, has worked wonders.

"It was well publicised that the boys went out last week to get a bit of team spirit and I think Burnley showed what we are really about,'' the striker said. "I am happy for the boys, happy for the manager, and happy for the people all connected with West Ham United. We really did do a good job.''

Cole concedes that he must start finding the net to help the club move up from their current position of 19th.

"I'm on 10 goals this season but I really want to convert that into the league,'' the 27-year-old added. "That's where it counts at the moment. We really want to be a Premier League outfit next season. Everyone really dug in and that's what we need, we need everyone pulling in the same direction.

"Everyone has to play their part this season because this is going to be a massive team effort.''


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