Team News: Ogbonna, Diop, Yarmolenko, Antonio and Balbuena update
David Moyes gave a detailed team news update in his press conference ahead of West Ham United’s Premier League fixture with Sheffield United.
The Hammers welcome the Blades to London Stadium on Monday for a 6pm kick-off that will be broadcast live in the UK by BT Sport.
And the manager was asked about the availability of no fewer than six players – Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Michail Antonio, Andriy Yarmolenko, Fabián Balbuena and Jarrod Bowen – for that fixture.
Ogbonna, Diop, Yarmolenko and Bowen were all substituted during Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at Manchester United, but Balbuena remained on the bench, while Antonio missed the match after coming off in the Premier League fixture at Fulham last Saturday evening.
It has since been confirmed that Ogbonna suffered a high ankle sprain in a challenge with Anthony Martial, but Diop escaped a concussion following a later clash of heads with the Red Devils’ French forward.
When asked to explain the situation with Ogbonna, Moyes explained: “First of all I’d say it is a big blow because he’s been magnificent in the games he has played and his leadership has been really important to us as well. I don’t have a timeframe [on how long he will be unavailable] just now and I wouldn’t want to put one on it either, even if I got it, because obviously we want to get him back quickly.
“My understanding is it doesn’t need surgery at the moment so that’s a good thing, but it’s getting checked by the specialist and I might know more in the next few days.”
The manager was next asked for his thoughts on how the new concussion substitute protocols worked with regard to Diop, in light of subsequent criticism of those protocols from the brain injury charity Headway, who have called for temporary concussion replacements to be introduced.
“First and foremost, Issa is fine and he was fine immediately after and he actually came in and did some training the next day, so I have no problem with Issa as far as that concern goes,” he explained. “I think what football has done is it has tried to find a short-term solution to a problem which were are going to have to look a lot more deeply into to see what we can do.
“I’d have to say football has tried to take the right action in some way and my medial team took the right action in the game the other night, so we’re trying to do the right thing, but Headway will have their reasons why they think it should be different.
“At the moment, the Premier League and The FA and the medical teams are trying to carry it out the best they can.”
Diop is expected to be available to face Sheffield United, and Moyes also confirmed forward Antonio is on track to be involved after recovering from the fatigue that saw him miss Tuesday’s trip to Old Trafford.
“He [Antonio] is doing well,” he said. “He’s done a little bit on the grass and we’re trying to get him back quickly, so hopefully he will be very close for the weekend.”
Meanwhile, it appears the game will come too soon for Yarmolenko and Balbuena, but Bowen is fully fit and ready to take on Chris Wilder’s side.
“Yarmolenko has a got a little bit of a knee injury we’re going to assess so we know exactly what that is,” the managed revealed.
“Balbuena actually picked up a bit of a calf strain in the warm-up [on Tuesday] and that’s the reason we didn’t use him in the game. I’m not sure at the moment yet [if he will be OK for Monday].
“Jarrod was fine. We had to make a tactical switch because of what we had at the time, losing Issa, so we changed things around tactically. Jarrod is all fine.”