JAMES Tomkins is expected to return to an experimental West Ham side tonight as they entertain Wigan Athletic in the league cup.

The Basildon centre back has found first team opportunities limited this season following the good form of Winston Reid and summer signing James Collins at the heart of the Hammers defence.

Steven Fletcher’s opening goal in the 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland on Saturday was the first they’ve conceded at home since their return to the top flight this season.

Former Chalvedon School boy Tomkins, who was named in the PFA’s Championship team of the year last season, was an unused substitute against the Black Cats, but afterwards Hammers boss Allardyce said he was one of a number of changes in the offing for tonight’s visit of the Latics in the Capital One Cup.

“Wigan is going to be a great game and there won’t be too much pressure on either side because it’s the Capital Cup, and I’m sure we’ll make some changes,” said Allardyce.

“James Tomkins, George McCartney, Alou Diarra, Maiga, Gary O’Neil, Matt Jarvis – we’ve got lots of players who can play. And we’ll look at the under-21s in the new development league this year.

“They beat Arsenal yesterday 4-1 so I have to look at some of those players because some of the reports are saying these players are looking very, very good.

“So the likes of Robert Hall and Daniel Potts may come into the frame or be on the bench, and we’ll have an experienced side out with a splattering of young players.

“And hopefully if those young players get a chance they’ll deliver a performance which will excite us all.

"And those players who get selected but haven’t played in the first team too much, will get the chance to make a claim for a return to first team football as quickly as possible.”