David Moyes has confirmed he is loath to risk Michail Antonio against Everton when West Ham United visit Goodison Park on Friday night.
The Irons travel to Merseyside on New Year’s Day looking to claim a first win in five games after failing to secure all three points at Southampton in a goalless draw on Tuesday.
Everton are set to be boosted by the return of Richarlison to Carlo Ancelotti’s starting line-up as the Toffees look to move second in the Premier League table, while Moyes is facing a string of selection dilemmas after rotating his XI at St. Mary’s.
So, with changes on the cards for the visiting Hammers, here’s a potential line-up Moyes could favour on his latest return to Goodison Park…
Lukasz Fabianski kept his fifth clean sheet of the league campaign during Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw with the Saints, and will be expected to join Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in retaining their starting roles against Everton.
Craig Dawson impressed during his Hammers debut in place of Fabian Balbuena, but may miss out on successive appearances after the Paraguayan was purely rested alongside right-back Vladimir Coufal for the south coast trip with the Irons playing twice in 48 hours.
Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini also featured against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints though are likely to be benched for the return of Jarrod Bowen and just a third Premier League start for Said Benrahma, who reportedly earns £23,000-a-week.
Moyes will find it hard to omit Benrahma after the Brentford loanee brought an immediate spark to West Ham’s efforts at St. Mary’s, where Antonio made his long-awaited return to action following niggling hamstring injuries as a late substitute.
Antonio will be assessed ahead of West Ham’s trip to Merseyside to assess his fitness in the chance the 30-year-old can start, but Moyes is keen to manage the centre-forward’s return to avoid aggravating the issue knowing the importance he brings to the side.
“I thought, even with the little bits when Michail came on [against Southampton], he made a bit of a difference. He gave us something, but I’m probably having to take him bit-by-bit,” Moyes said.
“We’re not sure how much we can get out of him and I’m loath to lose him to another injury. At the moment we’ve sort of muddled through, and we’ve just not been quite as fluent without him in the team.”
Sebastien Haller, who has been linked with a move away from the London Stadium, will likely start at Everton despite struggling against Southampton, having failed to score a fourth league goal in 15 appearances before being replaced by Antonio.