David Moyes must unleash Pablo Fornals against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night amid claims that the West Ham United midfielder has returned to fitness.
That’s according to Claret & Hugh, who claimed that backroom staff at Rush Green have confirmed that the Spanish maestro will be available to travel to Molineux.
Moyes did not select to name Fornals when addressing those available to feature in the Black Country, but voiced hope in Arthur Masuaku being ready to return after four months out following knee surgery.
The 25-year-old had started the Irons’ previous three top-flight fixtures before being consigned to the treatment room, having been given a recall for February’s London derby win over Tottenham Hotspur following two unused substitute appearances.
He could now come back into the side against Wolves alongside Masuaku, although Monday’s affair may come too soon for Angelo Ogbonna and Andriy Yarmolenko following their respective ankle and knee injuries.
“Arthur is back playing. He played a reserve game a week or so ago, so he’s back around the squad, but whether he is fully match-fit yet, we have to question it,” Moyes said on Friday.
“Yarmolenko is not ready yet. He went to see a specialist about his medial knee ligament injury again which we don’t think is too bad, but we’re not quite convinced with it.
“Angelo Ogbonna is making good progress, but he’s not ready at this moment in time. So, we’ve got a few knocks and niggles like everybody else, but we’ve also got a few players getting closer to returning to match fitness as well.”
Fornals has started 22 of his 24 Premier League appearances this season and boasts two goals and three assists – only Aaron Cresswell (7), Michail Antonio (5) and Said Benrahma (4) have been credited with creating more for West Ham to date.
Antonio provided two of his assists for the campaign during last month’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal when setting Jesse Lingard up to break the deadlock and Tomas Soucek to strike his side’s third, having played a team-high five key passes, per WhoScored. Jarrod Bowen failed to create a single goalscoring opportunity against the Gunners, while Lingard laid his only chance on in the 16th-minute.
Fornals had connected with Lingard for his latest assist to set up the England international to score the winner against Spurs in a lively showing from the £16m-rated maestro, who Trevor Sinclair believes “is turning into a top player”.
All too often, the Spaniard is regarded as an unsung hero at the London Stadium, as while he is not considered to have a standout attribute, his all-round game sees the 25-year-old prove a handful for opposing defences and midfielders to handle.
Moyes will need players like Fornals operating at their best against Wolves on Monday night, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side desperately in need of a positive result after a run of four winless games in a row risks seeing their season end on a sour note.
West Ham are winless in their last two league games, but a win at Molineux will keep the Irons firmly in the race for Champions League qualification and maintan the pressure on Chelsea in fourth.