David Moyes was forced into a number of changes to his starting XI for the draw with Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon after injuries to Vladimir Coufal and Manuel Lanzini.
The West Ham manager made a third alteration to his starting XI recalling Kurt Zouma in place of Issa Diop after the French international had recovered from sickness.
In Coufal’s absence, Moyes started Ryan Fredericks at right-back only to substitute the defender at half-time with Ben Johnson coming on. Fredericks had struggled during the game, particularly after receiving a 21st-minute booking, and Johnson was called upon to counter the threat of the Magpies goalscorer Joe Willock.
Despite Coufal’s disappointing performance against Leicester City’s Harvey Barnes last time out, the Czech international is Moyes’ preferred option at right-back and can expect to be recalled once his injury clears up.
In the absence of Coufal and Lanzini, Moyes handed positions in the matchday squad to youngsters Aji Alese and Dan Chesters, however, as expected neither man made it off the bench. Moyes only made two of his allotted three changes during the game, something that is becoming quite common at West Ham even with the Scot admitting he would like to have up to five substitutions available to him.
Lanzini’s absence was perhaps even more detrimental to the team than Coufal’s with the Argentine in fine form of late. The No.10 has the ability to transition defence into attack at great speed and play line-splitting passes into the forwards.
It was Lanzini’s introduction from the bench against Watford that changed the game as he provided the assists for Jarrod Bowen’s second-half winner. Lanzini was only on the bench that day after an achilles injury and the midfielder was once again out of the starting XI on Saturday afternoon.
Moyes remained tight-lipped about the extent of Laznini’s injury telling BT Sport only “Manuel Lanzini got a knock in training.”
The manager was a little more forthcoming when it came to the right-back revealing “Vladimir Coufal has an issue with his hernia.”
However, neither player is expected to be out for any length of time with the manager calling injuries in the West Ham camp knocks and niggles and revealing that Lanzini and Coufal were ‘doubts’ just 24 hours before the game without ruling them out entirely.
West Ham have a free mid-week for the last time before the international break at the end of next month with European and domestic cup ties throughout March, the return of Lanzini and Coufal ahead of a huge clash with Wolves on Sunday would therefore be most welcome as the hectic fixture schedule draws nearer.