Manuel Pellegrini has suggested that Aaron Cresswell is in line to start for West Ham United this weekend when the Irons take on Manchester United at London Stadium.
Cresswell has made two appearances for West Ham this season, with his most recent coming in the Carabao Cup win away to Newport County, but Pellegrini is ready to call on his No3 for the first time in the league since the home defeat to Manchester City.
With Arthur Masuaku suspended after his sending off at Aston Villa on Monday, the manager has challenged Cresswell to take his opportunity back in the starting XI.
“Aaron started this season and he played last season with me,” Pellegrini said. “He played around 50 per cent of the games with Arthur playing the others. For a manager, the best way to get the best performances out of your players is when there is competition behind them.
“Aaron was not playing because Arthur was doing well, but now is the moment for Aaron to demonstrate that he has the same level of performance.”
Apart from Masuaku, West Ham will also be without Michail Antonio and Winston Reid this Sunday, with the New Zealand international hoping to return to training with the first team next week.
Pellegrini said that the centre-back will likely play for the U23s in the coming weeks, while also indicating that Manuel Lanzini will undergo a late fitness test before Sunday.
He continued: “Winston Reid is recovering from his injury. I hope, next week, he will start working with the squad. His first game he will play will probably be with the U23s. I don’t know if it will be next week. If not, it will be one week more.
“Manuel Lanzini also has a little problem and we will review him before the game. We must wait for tomorrow. The other players are fit.”
Having seen his side struggle with injury set-backs last season, Pellegrini is relishing having an almost fully fit squad to choose from.
The manager admitted his job is made easier by having so many quality players available to him, as he looks to pick the perfect side to take on Manchester United this weekend.
“If, as a manager, you can have all your squad for every game, it’s very easy,” he added. “I know you must start with eleven and put seven on the bench which means, if the squad is all fit, you have to leave five or six players out who will not be happy.
“But, for me, that is easier than reviewing your squad and not having players because they are injured.”