David Moyes has a near fully fit West Ham United squad to pick from for Thursday’s UEFA Europa Conference League Group B tie at Silkeborg IF.
The Hammers boss will be without only long-term ankle injury victim Nayef Aguerd, who has been out since the pre-season fixture at Rangers on 19 July, and full-back Ben Johnson, who hurt his hamstring in the 1-0 Premier League win at Aston Villa on 28 August.
Other than that, Moyes told the media at his pre-match press conference in Denmark that he is expecting to have a few selection headaches for the Irons’ second group-stage tie at JYSK Park.
“Craig Dawson and Aaron Cresswell have travelled, but Ben Johnson hasn’t,” he confirmed, referring to Dawson’s return from injury after two months out in last Thursday’s 3-1 win over FCSB of Romania at London Stadium, and the groin problem Cresswell suffered in the 1-1 home Premier League draw with Tottenham Hotspur on 31 August.
“So, we’ll have a look at them and obviously we have to check out what is best for them regarding the surface etcetera, but we’ve brought them with us and they’re both getting nearer to fitness.
“Craig had had six weeks out and Cressy’s only probably had two weeks out really, so we just need to make sure that their injuries are okay, but they have done a bit of training.”
Another player who has travelled to Jutland is Maxwel Cornet, who was hurt in a challenge while winning the penalty Jarrod Bowen converted to set the Hammers on course for their come-from-behind victory over FCSB a week ago.
“Maxi was fine,” Moyes confirmed. “It was actually that he felt it more in his neck, so it wasn’t actually his head he got it. It was more that he landed and hurt his neck a little bit, so Maxi has been fine, he’s been training.”
Reference to ‘the surface’ alludes to Silkeborg’s artificial playing surface which, although relatively new and technologically advanced, has less give in it than a traditional grass pitch and will therefore play a part in Moyes’ thinking when it comes to team selection.
“It’s given me some thoughts with the way we play,” he confirmed. “Obviously, we respect that this is an artificial pitch and we have to come here and win and play a good game on the pitch as well.
“But I’ve also got to respect that I’ve got one or two players who maybe the surface doesn’t suit, so we have to think about this also.”
Overall, though, Moyes is happier with the status of his squad compared to a few weeks ago, when he was without the likes of Dawson and Angelo Ogbonna and prior to the signings of Thilo Kehrer, Emerson Palmieri and Lucas Paquetá.
“If you look at the first three games of the season, we only had one central defender to pick from in, which was really hard to take,” he recalled.
“We have brought players like Thilo in, but he’s still adapting. And he’s adapted quite quickly, but the truth is, I think he’s got so much more to give and so much more to do.
“We’ve had Craig Dawson out since he was injured in the Servette game on [on 8 July], so that shows you how long ago that was. And obviously we were hoping Angelo would be at full fitness right from the start, but he was not quite. He’s doing great with the way he’s coming along but he’s still picking up really with it.
“So, yeah, we’re certainly getting much closer to having them all fully fit and I’m going need them because the games are Thursday/Sunday. This week, obviously, the situation meant that we’ve missed the weekend game out, which has just given us a little bit of breathing space for the next two games, being this one and the Everton game.”