NEWCASTLE United defender Mike Williamson will be handed the task of stopping Andy Carroll at St James’s Park tomorrow.
The defender, pictured, was taken off during Thursday night’s 2-2 Europa League draw against Club Brugge to keep him fresh for the challenge.
Williamson – who faced Carroll in training during the striker’s career at his hometown club – will line up alongside Steven Taylor in the centre of Alan Pardew’s defence in the absence of captain Fabricio Coloccini.
Taylor replaced him at the Jan Breydel Stadium, where Pardew’s team fought back after going two goals down.
Given West Ham’s strength at set-pieces, their success at the back is central to Newcastle’s hopes of taking all three points against Sam Allardyce’s powerful side.
“I took him off (against Brugge), because he’s got Andy Carroll on Sunday,” Pardew said.
“I hoped I’d get to that situation. Obviously, if we had injuries, or we were chasing the game, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
“It was nice for that plan to work out, and for Steven to have 20 minutes, and Willo to have 60.”
Coloccini, Newcastle’s defensive lynchpin, will serve the first game of the three-match ban he was handed for his dismissal against Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday.
He will also miss games against Swansea City and Southampton.
Pardew is looking to put one over his former club. The Hammers are a point, and a place, above 10th-placed Newcastle in the Premier League.
Pardew – who guided West Ham to an FA Cup final during his time in charge at Upton Park – is targeting three points.
“It is about winning,” Pardews said. “We’ve got ourselves in a really good sitatution.
“I don’t know how many games we’ve played, but we ain’t lost many, and that’s how we want to keep it. We don’t want to lose games.”
Former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce guided West Ham back into the Premier League at the first attempt and the Hammers are making a decent fist of their first season back in the top flight.
In their ranks are former Newcastle duo Kevin Nolan – Allardyce’s captain – and Carroll, leaving Pardew understandably wary.
“They’re going well,” said Pardew. “When you look at their team, Yossi Benayoun’s been a fabulous player. He played for me at West Ham.
“There’s (Matt) Jarvis on the left. They’ve got Nolan and Andy Carroll up top.
“You can see why they get results. They’re a strong, disciplined team.
“They’re above us in the league, but if we win, we jump above them, so it’s a great incentive.”