Don Hutchison on West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic's opinion of Kevin Nolan

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Kevin Nolan left West Ham United in the summer, and he has recently been linked with Sunderland.

Former West Ham United star Don Hutchison has told the Chronicle that Slaven Bilic was raving about Kevin Nolan during pre-season.

Hutchison was a guest on the training ground with the Hammers as they prepared for the new Premier League campaign, and he has revealed that Bilic was a big fan of Nolan.

The Croatian manager has actually allowed Nolan to leave the club, with the experienced midfielder's contract being terminated, but Hutchison insists that the decision wasn't one based on footballing ability. 

"I was actually at the training ground at West Ham in pre-season and I went into speak to Slaven Bilic and he was raving about Kevin," Hutchison said. "He spoke for 20 minutes about him being the fittest, the best trainer and beating all of the other lads hands-down in the running and the fitness tests.

“He was in two minds about keeping him – it was just a case of looking for something a bit more dynamic and a bit more fluid in midfield. If he couldn’t guarantee Kevin game time – and he couldn’t – he didn’t think it was worth keeping him. It was probably a budget thing more than anything.

“But he said he was a terrific influence on the dressing room, a very popular guy who would do well at the next club he went to – exactly what Sunderland need.”

Nolan's departure from West Ham was a relief to many of their supporters, after he had fallen out of favour with a large proportion of the crowd at Upton Park.

The 33-year-old is still looking for a new club, but there have been suggestions in the Sunderland Echo that Sam Allardyce could bring him to the Stadium of Light.

Allardyce has previously worked with Nolan at Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and West Ham, and he reportedly feels that the central-midfielder would significantly improve the Black Cats' squad. 

If Nolan does join Sunderland he will need to hit the ground running, as the Wearsiders are playing catch-up in the Premier League table - and are currently five points away from safety. 

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