Team News: Rice seeks to cap birthday with win

Declan Rice leads West Ham United out on his 24th birthday and will make his 220th senior appearance at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The England midfielder is one of eight players retained from West Ham’s 1-0 win over Brentford in the Emirates FA Cup third round last weekend, with Vladimír Coufal, Pablo Fornals and vice-skipper Aaron Cresswell the three changes at Molineux Stadium.

Coufal returns to the starting XI following a slight injury picked up in the Hammers’ last Premier League fixture – a 2-2 draw at Leeds United – which kept him out of action at Brentford. The Czech full-back will line up in defence alongside Cresswell, who is set for a 315th appearance in Claret & Blue, Nayef Aguerd, on his second Premier League start, and vice-skipper Angelo Ogbonna.

Behind that quartet will be Łukasz Fabiański, who retains his spot in the West Ham United net. After moving to within one of the milestone at Brentford last weekend, the former Poland stopper seeks his 40th clean sheet for the Irons.

 Łukasz Fabiański   

Seeking a third straight win over those in Old Gold– and a fifth in the last six fixtures between the two sides – Michail Antonio leads the line. The No9 will be supported by Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen. The No20 has four goals in his last five matches against Wolves, memorably netting a brace in a 4-0 win at London Stadium in 2020 and also striking in the Hammers’ last successful visit to Molineux – a 3-2 win in April 2021.   

Tomáš Souček, who netted the winner against Wolves at London Stadium in 27 Feb 2022, is retained and will partner Rice and Lucas Paquetá in midfield. The Brazil midfielder has been amongst the goals recently and is looking to net in consecutive Premier League games following a first Claret and Blue goal at Leeds United.

With Coufal and Cresswell returning in defence, Craig Dawson, who started West Ham’s win in Brentford last weekend, is not available as was confirmed by David Moyes in his pre-match press conference on Friday, although Kurt Zouma returns to the matchday squad.

The French defender picked up a knee injury against Leicester City in November last year but has worked his way back to fitness over the 2022 FIFA World Cup break, and could move two shy of 50 appearances in Claret & Blue should he feature for the first time in 2023 at Molineux Stadium.

Like Zouma, Gianluca Scamacca also returns to the matchday squad after missing the tie at Brentford and is part of a strong substitutes’ bench that also seats Flynn Downes, Thilo Kehrer, and Manuel Lanzini, who could make his 175th Premier League appearance for West Ham.

Scamacca, meanwhile, seeks his eighth goal for West Ham and will take confidence after striking his first Premier League goal in the Hammers’ 2-0 over Wolves in October. He could net in a home and away fixture against a single opponent in the same season for the first time in his career today.

Emerson, Ben Johnson and Darren Randolph are also available to Moyes should they be required, with the scorer of the winner in west London, Saïd Benrahma, part of the matchday squad and looking strike from the bench, as he did at Brentford, in the Midlands this afternoon.

West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal, Aguerd, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice (c), Souček, Bowen, Paquetá, Fornals, Antonio
Subs: Randolph (GK), Benrahma, Downes, Johnson, Kehrer, Lanzini, Emerson, Scamacca, Zouma


Wolverhampton Wanderers: Sá, Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno, Moutinho, Neves (c), Hwang, Nunes, Podence, Cunha
Subs: Sarkic (GK), Aït-Nouri, Lemina, Jiménez, Jonny, Toti, A. Traoré, Hodge, Campbell


Referee: Simon Cooper

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