With confirmed injuries to key players West Ham United will have to send out a very different team to that which lost 2-3 to Leicester City at the London Stadium. Pedro Obiang and Diafra Sakho are ruled out for the rest of the season with Angelo Ogbonna unlikely to return either following surgery, Winston Reid is currently injured and is not expected to return for at least 4-6 weeks and as if these problems were not a big enough head ache for Hammers under fire manager Slaven Billic, Michail Antonio has been ruled out for a month as well!
How Can Hammers Line Up Against Hull? How Will They?
On the one hand such a surfeit of injuries is devastating, however the situation does give other 'fringe' players a chance to show what they can do, unfortunately Toni Martinez, Reece Oxord, Martin Samuelson and Reece Burke who would all be shoe ins to the team are unable to be recalled from the clubs they are currently on loan to. Some might say this was bad planning, whether it was bad planning, bad luck or a combination of both these potentially key reinforcements cannot be used, so Slaven Billic will have to 'cobble' a team together from the players he does have at his disposal.
Starting from the back Billic needs to give serious consideration as to retaining Darren Randolph in goal ahead of Adrian, Randolph's form has been poor of late compounded by his conceding of a couple of 'rookie error' goals against Leicester. Sam Byram should definitely start at right back, after all that is his position! The left back slot is another issue, for various reasons Aaron Cresswell has looked a shadow of his former self, and would agree his performances have been well off those of last season, gone is the marauding 'third striker' who terrorised opposition defenders, to be replaced by being one of those defenders who does get terrorised by the oppositions wing back! Serious consideration should be given to starting Authur Masuaku at left back, he has electric pace and can 'do a Cresswell of old' flying down the flank. James Collins is the only senior fit centre back and will partner Jose Fonte who just had a decent game for Portugal, hopefully he will bring some of that quality back with him to the Barclays Premier League! In midfield Mark Noble will inevitably return. probably partnered by Cheik Kouyate and Robert Snodgrass playing a slightly deeper role, this would suit the Scotland International because recently he has appeared to be breathing 'out of his back side' and would currently benefit from not having to be a 'box to box' player until he can build up his fitness levels, with age you gain experience but lose pace. The problem with signing players for substantial amounts, is that there is hierarchical propensity of requiring them to play whether their performances justify their inclusion or not, Edimilson Fernandes looks far superior to the Scot in the centre of the park and his energy levels superb, will he start? Havard Nordtveit has received a lot of criticism for his performances but has invariably been played out of position, he is another midfield option that Billic will consider, fortunately the forward situation is less precarious with Andre Ayew, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll all available as is Ashley Fletcher as an option from the bench.
Hull might be licking their lips at the prospect of facing such a severely depleted Hammers squad, it will be time for Billic's boys to stand up and be counted, something that they are currently best able to do away from home, but that's another story! - Ed
West Ham hoped for starting XI: Adrian, Byram, Fonte, Collins, Masuaku, Noble, Kouyate, Fernandes, Ayew, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Randolph, Nordtveit, Cresswell, Feghouli, Snodgrass, Fletcher, Arbeloa
West Ham probable starting XI: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Collins, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble, Ayew, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Carroll. Subs Adrian, Nordtveit, Masuaku, Fernandes, Fletcher, Feghouli, Arbeloa