Sunderland AFC news: Kone on Payet threat, West Ham defender ruled out, Allardyce return

Sam Allardyce returns to West Ham United this weekend
Sam Allardyce returns to West Ham United this weekend
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Sunderland's Lamine Kone says confidence is booming ahead of the trip to West Ham United.

But he knows stopping attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet is the key if the Black Cats are to come away with a result.

The French international has been one of the stand out performers this season, setting the Premier League alight with his quick feet, eye for goal and stunning skill.

And Kone – fresh from the club’s training camp in Dubai – knows hopes of securing at least a draw at Upton Park rest on keeping the Hammers top scorer under wraps.

Kone told the Echo: "He's a very good player and this year he's shown what he can do in the Premier League.

"He's been one of the best players of the season.

"But we know that it’s a big match that we need to be ready for."

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Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce returns to Upton Park this weekend after his contract with the Hammers was not renewed in the summer.

Big Sam spent four years in East London, the highlight of his tenure was the promotion back to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs in 2012.

But his style of play didn't always see eye to eye with West Ham fans.

Click here for Richard Mennear's feature:
Meanwhile, West Ham co-chairman David Gold has confirmed defender James Tomkins won't be part of the Hammers squad for the visit of Sunderland.

The defender , who has been in good form this season, picked up a groin injury away at Southampton earlier this month and isn't ready to return.

Manager Slaven Bilic was hopeful the academy star would be back in just two weeks but Gold claims Tomkins will not be back until late in March.