Arthur Masuaku’s career-saving knee surgery has now proven costly for Aaron Cresswell with the West Ham United defender caught out throughout Wednesday night’s draw with Crystal Palace.
Irons boss David Moyes has been forced to revert Cresswell back to a left-back role at the London Stadium after losing Masuaku for the foreseeable future, with the DR Congo international going under the knife to resolve almost two years’ worth of pain.
Cresswell had reached a new level in his game following a move to centre-half early in the season, and admitted to loving the duties of playing centrally as it allowed both himself and Masuaku to thrive at what they do best.
Moyes even suspected that a consistent run of performances in a centre-back role could force Gareth Southgate to recall Cresswell to the England fold when the Three Lions regroup in March, when it will be almost four years since the 31-year-old earned the last of his three caps.
“Gareth has got a really good squad of players to pick from,” said Moyes, via quotes by the Evening Standard. “I do think that Cressy’s form is getting more recognised.
“If he continues in that form for the next few months then I think Gareth would certainly consider him because he can do a couple of jobs. England have got good left-backs. Maybe they could do with a left-sided centre-back in a three because he’s good on the ball.”
Losing Masuaku for what is likely a lengthy period of time was described as a “worst nightmare” scenario for Moyes, but the effects have trickled down to Cresswell with the defender forced to revert to playing at full-back again.
Crystal Palace almost had their day with the £50,000-per-week defender in Wednesday night’s draw at the London Stadium, where Andros Townsend toyed with Cresswell time and time again thanks to Pablo Fornals often offering no support.
Cresswell would end that match having won just 25% of his total duels with success in one of seven ground contests and in his only aerial battle, per SofaScore. He’d further lose possession 19 times, be dribbled past once and offer a single interception for his defensive contributions.
The Tranmere Rovers product, who Moyes has now started at either at centre or full-back in each of West Ham’s opening 13 Premier League games, was able to bring a marginal offensive presence, at least, with four crosses attempted and one shot on goal. But missed the mark with his sole effort, connected with just one of his deliveries and failed to win out in his only dribble of the night.
Moyes will hope to see Cresswell bounce back against London rivals Chelsea in Monday night’s meeting at Stamford Bridge, as he can ill-afford to see the £5.85m-rated man wilt again as he readjusts to wide defensive duties.