David Moyes hopes Arthur Masuaku will be ready to return to his West Ham United squad for Monday’s Premier League fixture at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The DR Congo left wing-back has been unavailable since undergoing surgery to fix a long-standing knee problem before Christmas and has not featured in the Premier League since the home fixture with Manchester United on 5 December.
However, after missing the last 18 top-flight matches, the 27-year-old returned to competitive action in a Premier League 2 Division 1 fixture with Leicester City on 13 March and has trained with the first-team squad during the international break with a view to being in Moyes’ squad for the trip to Molineux.
“Arthur is back playing. He played a reserve game a week or so ago so he’s back around the squad, but whether he is fully match-fit yet, we have to question it,” the manager explained in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
The Scot also confirmed that the game will come too soon for Andriy Yarmolenko, who also played in that Premier League 2 fixture against Leicester, and Angelo Ogbonna, both of whom were hurt in an FA Cup fifth-round tie at Manchester United on 9 February.
“Yarmolenko is not ready yet,” Moyes confirmed. “He went to see a specialist about his medial knee ligament injury again which we don’t think is too bad, but we’re not quite convinced with it.
“Angelo Ogbonna is making good progress but he’s not ready at this moment in time, so we’ve got a full knocks and niggles like everybody else, but we’ve also got a few players getting closer to returning to match fitness as well.”
The manager did not mention any other players by name, but he is hoping the Hammers’ nine international players will all return to Rush Green with a clean bill of health ahead of the Premier League run-in.
West Ham kick-off the weekend fifth in the table with nine games to play and know they will need to be at their best to hold off the pack of clubs immediately below them in the standings, which reads Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal.
With a full weekend to prepare, the manager says he will know more about his players’ fitness levels in the coming days.
“Having a Monday fixture helps us as it gives us a couple of days longer to prepare, but it also helps Wolves as well,” he observed.
“We’re still assessing the players who were away on international duty and getting them back in in dribs and drabs and getting them ready as some had games earlier in the week and some a bit later.
“We’ve got a few knocks and bruises, but I think everybody is the same at this time of the season.”