Slaven Bilic has urged West Ham’s squad players to stand up and be counted during their injury crisis.
The Hammers have been rocked by injuries to six key players in just over a month which threaten to derail their fine start to the season.
Dimitri Payet, Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho, Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses and Winston Reid have all been sidelined, prompting Bilic to order the team switch training grounds in a bid to stem the flow of casualties.
The Upton Park boss will now call on the likes of Michail Antonio, Nikica Jelavic, Mauro Zarate and Pedro Obiang to fill the void when Stoke arrive in east London on Saturday.
“I’m not trying to find excuses,” said Bilic. “I’m not happy, of course, but I am not trying to be positive – I am positive. It’s time to show we can overcome these obstacles.
“I’m sure we will show we can play without these players. They are great players, that’s why we got them, and that’s why they were playing regularly.
“But we have to get through this period without them. I want to concentrate on the players who are available to continue the way we are playing.
“It’s going to be hard without them, but we played without almost all of them against Manchester United last week and still created enough chances to score goals.
“When they were available it was all about the squad. Now we have a tinier squad but it’s time for those players who didn’t play, with team work and team spirit, to step up.”
The goalless draw at Old Trafford stretched West Ham’s winless run to five matches.
They face a Stoke side lying just a point behind them after notable victories over Chelsea, Southampton and Manchester City in the last month.
“Stoke played really well against Man City, and not only against Man City, but also Southampton was a really good away win,” added Bilic.
“Against Chelsea, and last week against City, a few of their moves were top-class football which doesn’t surprise me because up front they have top-quality internationals.
“Xherdan Shaqiri was at Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, big clubs were fighting for him, so it’s credit to Mark Hughes for getting him. The same happened with Bojan Krkic the year before.
“Then they have Marko Arnautovic, a top-class player, Jonathan Walters, Mame Biram Diouf on the bench. They are a good, solid team and much better when they attack the space or counter attack.
“I am impressed and it’s going to be a very difficult game for us – but we are also good, of course.”