Allardyce slams 'unprofessional' Nolan and Collins after they pick up fifth yellow cards in Reading defeat
22:38 GMT, 30 December 2012
Sam Allardyce blasted two of his key players who picked up yellow cards against Reading that will force them to miss their New Year's Day match with Norwich.
Captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Collins have been at the heart of West Ham's season but will miss their match against Norwich on Tuesday as they serve a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards.
If they had not been booked on Saturday the suspension threshold would been have extended to 10 yellow cards.
Head-to-head: West Ham captain Kevin Nolan squares up to Reading's Alex Pearce during the Premier League match on Saturday
The Hammers have struggled with injuries this season and only two weeks ago they could not name a full list of substitutes against West Brom.
Nolan was booked with 10 minutes to play for a late challenge on Hal Robson-Kanu who was breaking away inside his own half and Collins's yellow was for a late challenge on Pavel Pogrebnyak – both needless tackles.
And manager Allardyce branded the two players 'unprofessional' for picking up a fifth booking this season so close to the deadline.
The 58-year-old said: 'Suddenly Norwich becomes a test of nerve – we are now in our worst run of results this season, and the unprofessionalism of players, due to frustration, means we are now without our captain and James Collins on New Year's Day through suspension.
Suspension: James Collins, as well as Nolan, picked up their fifth bookings of the season against Reading, meaning they will miss the New Year's Day game with Norwich
'Losing the game was hard enough, but to lose two key players in the last game of the suspension period makes it even worse.
'If they had got booked on Tuesday, there's no suspension, but they go and get booked at Reading and now we have to make do without them.'
The yellow card compounded a particularly bad afternoon for Collins.
The centre back was one of West Ham's best players in reducing Reading to a single shot on target – but it was his glaring mistake that handed them that chance that resulted in the winner.
On five minutes Collins played a woefully short pass back to Jussi Jaaskelainen and Pogrebnyak ran on to the ball and finished one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Bad day at the office: Collins also underhit a backpass to gift Pavel Pogrebnyak what turned out to be the decisive goal on five minutes
The result was only Reading's second win in the league this season against a team they came up with from the Championship.
West Ham are now only six points clear of the relegation zone following a run of one win in eight matches.
They have lost five of their last seven games and Allardyce admitted they are starting to worry about Premier League survival.
But his captain Nolan insisted that during the previous four seasons no-one outside of the top four are safe in the Barclays Premier League until close to the end of the campaign.
The 30-year-old said: 'In the Premier League no matter where you are unless it's two games to go and you're in the top 10 you don't not look behind you.
Not impressed: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce branded Nolan and Collins 'unprofessional' after picking up the suspensions
'I think if you can include Everton [and Arsenal] with the top four all the rest of the teams could be around [the relegation place], a few losses and you're all dragged back into it.
'It's just the way it is, the way the league has been the last three or four years.'
He added: 'We're on 23 points, it's been a decent start, if you'd offered us that at the beginning of the season we would've taken it. That's how we've got to look at it.
'We've got to go for another 23 points and plus that for the next half of the season which is going to be tough but we're more than capable of doing it.'