From the Terraces


Fan blogger Joe Difford looks at the moves the Hammers could make to cover for Aaron Cresswell’s injury…
This summer Hammers fans have been treated to a thoroughly ambitious transfer window, aiming to bring in some of the top players in European football. Distracted by all the action, no one could have expected to lose one of our key players just days before the season kicked off.
Aaron Cresswell picked up an injury during our preseason friendly with Karlsruher SC following a rash challenge from midfielder Grischa Promel, prompting a heated response from our players, and understandably so.
Cresswell has been one of our most significant players over the past two seasons, missing just one league game and contributing both goals and assists. In fact, the left back has played more Premier League minutes than any other player in the last two years.
And now, with our Europa League campaign already underway, Slaven Bilic, David Gold and David Sullivan are tasked with bringing in a starting left back, who won’t mind losing his place in four months’ time when Cresswell returns.
Kieran Gibbs’ name was mentioned on social media within a few hours of Cresswell’s injury announcement, and he would certainly be a capable replacement. Gibbs has ten caps for England at senior level and has impressed at Arsenal since his debut in 2007.
Nacho Monreal had a brilliant campaign last year which saw Gibbs drop down the pecking order, so it makes sense to give his team mate some first time action in claret and blue. The main problem here is that Arsene Wenger would be unlikely to lose his back up full back unless he got some hard cash for him, whereas a loan deal would be best for us until Cresswell is fit.
Alex Büttner is another potential option, having underperformed at Manchester United and only featuring 20 times since joining Dynamo Moscow in 2014. His fee would certainly be lower than a few years ago, but he is still yet to prove himself consistently at a top level.
Jose Enrique has emerged as a very plausible option, and he would cost absolutely nothing as the former Newcastle and Liverpool man is currently a free agent. Enrique would definitely love to move back to a top club before he hangs up his boots, but his injury record and expectedly high wage demands could prove to be a stumbling block. He would, at least, understand that his position is temporary due to his age.
Norwich’s relegation means that both Martin Olsson and Robbie Brady could be on their way out the door, and both could easily fill in for Cresswell until his return around Christmas time. Brady scored the winning goal for the Republic of Ireland against Italy during the Euros, and would likely be fired up to give the Premier League another shot.
With just a week to go until the Premier League kick-off, whoever is chosen to fill in for Aaron must be brought in swiftly. In the first leg of our Europa League qualifier, it was clear that we lacked an attacking threat from the left hand side and Sam Byram is not a natural left-sided player.
Brady, Olsson or Gibbs would be the best options, but the latter is unlikely to be easy to obtain due to Wenger’s wise transfer dealings. Enrique and Büttner are riskier purchases, but could both be available for cheap or even free.
Cresswell’s injury is a major loss for West Ham, but being a club on the up and on the verge of a move to the London Stadium, it shouldn’t be too difficult to entice a great replacement to step in in his absence.
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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United