West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini will take a strong squad to Anfield for the Hammers’ Premier League opener against Liverpool on Sunday.
All of the club’s summer signings are fit, including Andriy Yarmolenko, who has recovered from a hip problem, while just four members of Pellegrini’s first-team squad are unavailable for selection – Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll and Edimilson Fernandes.
After seven intensive and productive weeks of pre-season training and preparation and more than 20 players in full training, the Chilean will have plenty of selection decisions to make ahead of his first competitive fixture in charge.
For me, it’s easier to have more good players and some of them must wait than to not have any option to change
“Pre-season has finished and I think we worked very well,” he said. “Except the three players who have long-term injuries, who are Reid, Lanzini and Andy Carroll, the rest of the squad is all OK.
“Fernandes also has a small problem, but the rest of the squad is fit.”
No fewer than nine players could make their West Ham debuts at Anfield, with Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Felipe Anderson, Lucas Perez and Yarmolenko all training at Rush Green on Friday.
Spanish forward Perez joined the Hammers on deadline day and Pellegrini was asked how he plans to get the best out of a player who was given few opportunities to prove himself in the Premier League during two seasons at previous club Arsenal.
The same can be said of Carlos Sanchez, who arrived from Fiorentina on Thursday and previously had a turbulent two-year spell in England with Aston Villa, which ended in relegation to the Championship in 2016.
“Every season is different for the players,” the manager observed. “There are a lot of different things, maybe in the way the teams are playing or problems that the player has during the season.
“I know that both of them have had good careers and that both of them have the qualities to be here in the squad and I hope that we will get the best out of them.”
Pellegrini is used to juggling big squads full of talented players, having done so previously at the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City, and with around 30 senior stars and promising youngsters eager for first-team action, the manager will put some noses out of joint with his team selections.
However, the 64-year-old said he would rather have options than be stuck with a thin squad.
“Maybe it’s one of the most difficult things for a manager because all of them want to play and with the better players, you have more problems,” he explained.
“For me, it is more difficult when you don’t have players and you just have eleven because then you don’t have any problems and you just choose the same starting XI every week, but that is impossible because the amount of games and the injuries the players have.
“For me, it’s easier to have more good players and some of them must wait than to not have any option to change.”