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West Ham: David Moyes must unleash Ben Johnson vs Anderlecht

West Ham United head into Thursday evening’s Europa Conference League meeting with RSC Anderlecht on the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers last Sunday, with David Moyes undoubtedly hoping that his side can continue this fine form in Belgium – with a win putting the Hammers in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages.

Indeed, after securing a 3-1 win over FCSB and a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Silkeborg IF in their opening two Conference League fixtures this season, the Irons currently sit top of Group D on six points – two ahead of tonight’s hosts – meaning a triumph in Belgium would all but secure the club’s passage to the latter stages of the competition.

However, despite the importance of the clash, the Evening Standard recently reported that Moyes could be set to shuffle the pack somewhat regarding his starting XI, with the 59-year-old looking likely to hand a number of his lesser-seen squad members an opportunity to impress, as well as potentially easing a number of his recently injured first-teamers back into first-team football.

As such, there would appear one player – who could arguably fit into either of the aforementioned categories – who the Scot simply must afford some much-needed minutes at Lotto Park on Thursday evening, the back-in-contention Ben Johnson.

Having last featured for West Ham back in August due to an ongoing thigh issue, the 22-year-old right-back returned to first-team training earlier this week, with it appearing essential that Moyes gets the player who ExWHUemployee dubbed “sensational” back up to speed as quickly as possible.

Indeed, not only is the £19k-per-week Johnson one of the Hammers’ most exciting up-and-coming youth prospects but the performances of the club’s current first-choice right-back, Vladimir Coufal, have left a great deal to be desired so far this season.

Over the 30-year-old’s seven Premier League appearances in 2022/23, the £8.7m-rated full-back has largely failed to impress, failing to help his side keep a single clean sheet, being yet to directly contribute towards a goal and not creating a single big chance for his teammates.

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These returns have seen the £35k-per-week Czech international average an extremely underwhelming SofaScore match rating of just 6.67, currently ranking him as Moyes’ seventh-worst performer in the top flight of English football.

As such, considering Coufal’s poor displays, coupled with the fact that the £13m-rated Johnson is a home-grown England U21 international, it would appear to very much be in Moyes’ best interests to finally make the 22-year-old his first choice on the right of his backline – as the academy graduate is undoubtedly a massive upgrade on the 30-year-old.

Article title: West Ham: David Moyes must unleash Ben Johnson vs Anderlecht

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