David Moyes has declared aspirations of winning the FA Cup with West Ham United but is keen to strike a balance with their Premier League campaign ahead of facing Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
A Hammers win at the London Stadium this weekend will see the club reach the fifth round of the competition for the first time in five seasons, after losing to West Bromwich Albion, AFC Wimbledon, Wigan Athletic and Manchester City in recent years.
Moyes will be looking to end the Irons’ torrid run by naming as strong a side as possible against their League One opposition, though is aware of the need to afford a rest for those who have featured frequently already this term.
“I want to win the FA Cup if I can, I really do,” Moyes said. “I want to be strong in the cup competitions, but I’ve also got to be mindful of the amount of games we’re playing. I think it’s really beginning to take its toll on so many clubs. We’ve been good with injuries and I want to keep it that way.”
So, with that in mind, here’s a potential line-up West Ham could name as they look to repeat their successes of the 2015/16 campaign, when they ventured as far as the quarter-finals…
Michail Antonio may be afforded a rest after starting the Hammers’ last two Premier League fixtures amid his return from a second hamstring injury of the campaign, with Moyes keen to find a balance between relying on his sole senior centre-forward and allowing him time to rediscover his best form.
“I think there’s part of Michail Antonio that needs a rhythm,” the Irons boss said. “I think if you look at his best form, he sometimes needs to get picked up when he’s a bit rusty at the start, but then he gets into full flow.”
Antonio sitting out the Doncaster affair may allow youth striker Mipo Odubeko the chance to earn his first senior start, with the 18-year-old having made his Irons debut from the bench in the third round win over Stockport County earlier this month.
Fellow Hammers academy graduate Ben Johnson may also expect to start at home to Doncaster after opening the Stockport win, partnering Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson at the back as Moyes opts to retain his current centre-back pairing who have kept four clean sheets in their last five games together.
Darren Randolph will also be expected to start in goal after recording shut outs in West Ham’s 1-0 wins over Stockport and Everton earlier this month.
Said Benrahma has begun to settle at West Ham following his loan move from Brentford in the previous transfer window, and will be expected to once again start in the forward midfield line in search of his first goal in claret and blue.
Pablo Fornals and Andriy Yarmolenko could offer further senior experience in behind youth star Odubeko, if favoured over Antonio.
Mark Noble may also be recalled to partner Tomas Soucek – who sat out the Stockport win – to allow Declan Rice a rare break, having featured in all but two of West Ham’s 23 matches across all competitions this season.