That’s according to BBC Sport, who claim that, despite initial hopes that Craig Dawson could make a return to first-team football this weekend, the centre-back has once again been ruled out of contention for the visit to Villa Park. This will duly be the sixth game that the 32-year-old will have missed due to a thigh injury picked up in pre-season.
However, the BBC went on to state that the Hammers could be set to welcome Vladimir Coufal back into their 20-man squad today, as the right-back will have completed his spell out due to the concussion protocol, while new £13m signing Emerson Palmieri could also be in line for an immediate place in the squad to face Villa.
Considering how important Dawson has become to West Ham in recent years, and with the Irons currently having a record of no goals scored and five goals conceded over their three matches so far in the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, the news that Dawson remains sidelined for this afternoon’s clash is sure to have left David Moyes gutted.
Indeed, so far this season, none of the Hammers’ central defensive options have particularly impressed, with Kurt Zouma averaging a SofaScore match rating of 6.77, Ben Johnson 6.73 and summer signing Thilo Kehrer earning a hugely disappointing match rating of just 6.20 on his Premier League debut against Brighton & Hove Albion last time out.
In comparison, over Dawson’s 34 league appearances last season, the £2.7m-rated defender helped his team to keep five clean sheets, scored two goals and registered two assists, in addition to making 0.9 interceptions, 0.9 tackles and 4.1 clearances and winning 4.1 duels (at a success rate of 56%) per game.
As such, it is clear to see just how big of a blow the defender’s continued absence will be against Villa this afternoon, with Moyes undoubtedly hoping that his side can pick up their first points of the 2022/23 league campaign against Steven Gerrard’s side. That could be much harder without Dawson in the heart of the Hammers’ defence.