That’s according to Manchester Evening News, who quoted David Moyes’ response to injury updates as the Irons manager coyly claimed: “We’ve got quite a lot of concerns but I’m not going to give you them.”
He continued by ruling out the Hammers’ new signing Gianluca Scamacca due to fitness issues, saying: “Gianluca has only just joined us and he’s a little behind so I’m not expecting him to be available this weekend. He’s not played any minutes in pre-season so it makes it very difficult to put him out so soon…”.
Although Scamacca is yet to play for the Hammers, both Moyes and the club’s supporters will be disappointed to see their marquee summer signing ruled out for what looks the most difficult opening game that any Premier League side could be handed.
In all honesty, though, the club were very lucky that the 32-year-old did not break down and leave them without a senior striker for some time.
Although that issue is now resolved with the arrival of Scamacca, his absence will be frustrating given his proficiency in front of goal last season, when he netted 16 goals in Serie A. The Irons are unlikely to get a host of chances against title holders Manchester City, so to be without the forward for today’s clash is a huge blow for West Ham.
Also, with an expected goals (xG) of 11.13, he overperformed in front of goal by 4.87. This outlines his clinical nature and his tendency to score from positions of little opportunity.
For comparison, Antonio’s xG of 12.79 represents a 2.79 underperformance. While over a league season one might prefer the striker who gets in the right positions, for games such as this a wildcard would often be prepared in order to stand a chance.
Moyes has been vocal in his admiration for the player, claiming that the Irons had “been watching him [Scamacca] for some time and even considered going for him last January. He has a presence as a player with his size and his ability to take the ball in, retain possession.
“We see him helping in maybe a different way to what we’ve had and his youthfulness means we know there is more room for improvement. It’s very rare you can have a top striker at 23 years of age – but he is.”
The absence of this kind of presence could be felt heavily by West Ham today, and Moyes will surely be gutted to be without his Italian recruit for their all-important opening league game.