According to club insider Claret and Hugh, the 22-year-old has a ‘fifty/fifty’ chance of earning a place in the matchday squad for the visit of Bruno Lage’s side at the London Stadium, having been absent since the 1-0 win over Aston Villa at the end of August.
The suggestion is that he is making a ‘decent recovery’ from that issue at present, ensuring that there is an ‘outside chance’ that the promising full-back could be available to take on the Old Gold on Saturday evening.
While the £8.1m-rated gem may well still be something of a doubt, it will be pleasing for manager David Moyes to see his squad edging back to full fitness, with the Scotsman likely to see his strength in depth tested ahead of what will be a hectic next month or so prior to the World Cup.
With European commitments to juggle alongside league and cup action domestically, the former Everton boss will see his resources stretched in the weeks to come, hence the need to keep his players off the treatment table.
With summer signing Nayef Aguerd also making a positive step towards a return – albeit with his involvement still likely a month or so away – it looks as if the club’s season injury woes are beginning to be lifted, with the defensive ranks having been particularly decimated since the new campaign began.
In the case of Johnson, the England U21 international has proven an invaluable asset with his versatility to feature on either side of the defence and even in a centre-back berth, with that flexible nature likely to be integral amid this non-stop spell of fixtures.
Not just a jack of all trades, however, the London-born starlet also offers real defensive quality to Moyes’ side, as he notably ranks in the top 3% for blocks made and the top 4% for clearances among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, showcasing his willingness to do the dirty work when required.
Previously lauded as a “really important player” by his manager last term – during a breakthrough campaign that saw him make 35 appearances in all competitions – the £19k-per-week man would surely give the West Ham boss a lift if he was to return, with the Irons in need of a result after picking up just four points from their opening seven league games.