David Moyes must unleash Andriy Yarmolenko at striker when West Ham United visit non-league Stockport County for their FA Cup third round tie on Monday night.
Yarmolenko has rarely featured in any competition this term with the 31-year-old making just four starts so far, three of which came during the Hammers’ Carabao Cup campaign.
But the Irons are now down to only one recognised senior centre-forward in Michail Antonio ahead of their trip to Edgeley Park following Sebastien Haller’s £20m exit on Friday, and they can use their encounter with Jim Gannon’s side to discover potential alternatives.
Yarmolenko has struggled to find his role in Moyes’ Premier League plans this term and missed almost a month of action in the run-up to Christmas after testing positive for Coronavirus.
Yet the attacker had impressed when given a chance to display his talents in the EFL Cup, recording his entire five-goal contribution for the campaign to date with two goals and three assists against lower league opposition.
He also averaged 2.3 shots and 2.7 key passes a game across West Ham’s League Cup ties with Charlton Athletic, Hull City and Everton, won 4.3 duels and offered 1.3 successful tackles, per SofaScore.
Yarmolenko could now prove to be a lifesaver for West Ham in the January transfer market, and particularly to co-owner and Chairman David Sullivan, as an impressive showing at striker on Monday night may allow the London Stadium natives to save millions on signing a Haller replacement.
West Ham have been linked with moves for a host of options; including Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah, Bournemouth’s Joshua King – who could cost £15m – RB Salzburg’s £25m-rated Patson Daka and Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, who reports claim the Irons may bid £30m for.
Moyes has experimented with his attacking options already this season by fielding Yarmolenko at centre-forward during his cameo appearances at Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in October, while starting Jarrod Bowen alongside Haller against Brighton & Hove Albion last month.
His decision to utilise Bowen up top at home to the Amex Stadium natives backfired horrifically, but Yarmolenko’s efforts left an impression on Moyes who was later tipped to put his faith behind the £7m-rated outcast to reap the rewards of his energy in the role.
Yarmolenko has also played centrally for Ukraine at times over the years, and an impressive showing against Stockport on Monday night could see Moyes save Sullivan millions in not having to splash out to land a back-up striker during the January transfer window.