David Moyes may soon have improved competition for places at West Ham United as Andriy Yarmolenko has returned to training after sustaining knee ligament damage.
That’s according to images shared on the Irons’ official club website, which have since been picked up by the Ukraine Football Federation, after it was noted that the 31-year-old is back amongst the action at Rush Green.
The Ukraine international had started the action at Old Trafford in a centre-forward role in the absence of Michail Antonio, who had been rested due to showing serious fatigue against Fulham.
Yarmolenko now appears to be stepping up his rehabilitation with a return to the grass pitches at West Ham’s Rush Green facilities, having joined his teammates as they prepared for last Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League defeat to the Red Devils.
Moyes did not address Yarmolenko’s road to recovery when discussing the fitness of his squad last week, but offered updates on Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku after they returned to training and showed positive signs of progress.
The Irons boss had opted against putting a time scale on Yarmolenko’s return in the immediate aftermath of his injury, instead noting that he hoped “that the damage is not serious”.
Images of Yarmolenko now working with the West Ham squad would suggest the forward is nearing a potential return to selection alongside Ogbonna and Masuaku. He was also recently named in Andriy Shevchenko’s expanded Ukraine squad for the upcoming international break.
Having Yarmolenko available for West Ham’s run of fixtures beyond the March internationals will come as a boost to Moyes, with the east London outfit still to face a few of their rivals for a European qualifying berth in Leicester City, Chelsea and Everton.
Yarmolenko may be unlikely to feature in Sunday’s London derby with Arsenal, given Moyes did not address his progress when speaking to the media while discussing Ogbonna and Masuaku last week, but the Ukraine winger’s return could soon be a boost.
That competition can come in both his natural wide role to challenge Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma for minutes, but also in providing depth behind Antonio given the striker is Moyes’ only recognised centre-forward after Sebastien Haller’s winter exit.
Yarmolenko started two of West Ham’s FA Cup ties this season in a striker role and netted with composure in the fourth-round win over Doncaster Rovers, after which West Ham assistant coach Alan Irvine praised his performance.
“It was very encouraging the way Yarmo performed. He has played there before and we know the ability he has got and we know that if we get him through in those kinds of situations one v one with the goalkeeper, he is a very, very good finisher,” said Irvine, via quotes by football.london.
Goals have not been an issue for Antonio in most throughout Yarmolenko’s spell on the sidelines, netting against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, but the 30-year-old was often invisible at Old Trafford on Sunday and helped to leave Moyes feeling underwhelmed with his offence.
Yarmolenko is not the ideal option to offer cover and support at striker, but he has proven to be an adept back-up who may soon provide Moyes a welcome boost upon his full return.