West Ham appear to have found their new first-choice right-back in Ryan Fredericks.
The full-back has played against both Liverpool and Crystal Palace in recent weeks under Manuel Pellegrini and excelled in both games, with Pablo Zabaleta potentially set for an extended period on the sidelines.
Fredericks, against Liverpool, was matched up against one of the most prolific front threes in English football.
Against Sadio Mane, Fredericks held his own and, though the Senegal international scored, the right-back was unlucky that it was allowed, with replays showing that the Reds attacker was offside.
Thereafter, however, he successfully limited Mane’s threat and ensured that the Hammers had a solid defensive foundation on which to build, as they managed to grind out a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
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Last time out, West Ham again drew 1-1, this time with Crystal Palace, and Fredericks was again impressive.
Matched up against Wilfried Zaha, Fredericks made five tackles, the second most of any player on the pitch, per WhoScored, and touched the ball 51 times, even venturing forward to register one shot on goal.
And the defender has enjoyed his stint in the first-team, telling the club’s official website: “It doesn’t get much harder than what I’ve faced this last week. As left wingers come, Mane and then Zaha are two of the best there are is the Premier League. I feel like I stood up to the test and got the better of the battle.”
This should be the end of Zabaleta in the Hammers team.
The Argentine is 34 and, while his displays have belied his years at times, he can now be eased out of the starting XI.
Fredericks is eight years Zabaleta’s junior and deserves the chance to show just how good he is at the London Stadium.
With games against Fulham and Manchester City to come, the 26-year-old should keep his place as the Irons’ look to build on two promising displays.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men are currently 10th, five points behind seventh-placed Wolves – if they are to catch them, Fredericks has to play at right-back.