Chris Basham has revealed the debt of gratitude he owes Kevin Nolan ahead of tonight’s Capital One Cup tie between Sheffield United and West Ham at the Boleyn Ground, writes James Shield.
Basham, who joined the visitors from Blackpool earlier this summer, viewed the former England under-21 international as his footballing mentor when they played together at Bolton Wanderers five years ago.
Although a shoulder injury sustained before West Ham’s victory over Crystal Palace last weekend will prevent Nolan from featuring in the second round tie, Basham told The Star: “Hopefully I’ll still bump into Kevin when we get down there because he taught me a lot during my time at Bolton. Actually, I used to clean his boots and I must have done a pretty decent job because he was always looked after me really well.
“Kevin’s game is all about getting forward, driving into the penalty area and getting goals. There are few better at it than him which is why I still follow his progress even though we’ve long gone our separate ways.
“It will be nice to see him again but, when it comes to the match itself, I’ll be doing everything I can to try and put his team out.”
Basham, aged 26, enters the first meeting between these two clubs since the Carlos Tevez Affair aiming to improve his own returns in the opposition’s final third despite being praised by United manager Nigel Clough for “doing the dirty work well” during recent fixtures with Peterborough and Crawley Town.
“That’s an aspect where I know I can improve,” Basham continued. “The gaffer wants me to break the lines more and get some goals so that’s something I’ll be looking to do.”
United, who beat Mansfield Town in the previous round, travelled south last night hoping to complete a hat-trick of wins in all competitions after following their success at London Road with a 1-0 triumph over John Gregory’s side.
Basham, who also knows Clough’s counterpart Sam Allardyce and West Ham defender Joey O’Brien from his time in the North-West, said: “There’s a brilliant feeling around the camp now with those results. To be fair, it’s been here from day one but it’s even better now.
“I don’t like to get too high when I win or too low when I lose but what makes me really excited is the togetherness here.
“Take Michael (Doyle) and Neill (Collins) for example. They’re two experienced players who have come back into the team now but, when they were out at the start of the season, they were brilliant behind the scenes and giving everyone the right guidance.
“All the teams who do well need that type of togetherness, no matter who is playing.”
United reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup earlier this year while West Ham reached the same stage of this tournament last term.
Despite acknowledging that attempting to gain promotion from League One is “our main focus”, Basham said: “The gaffer wants us to do well in all the cups and I’d love a run my self because I’ve never really had one before.”