With Mark Noble’s 17-year West Ham United career coming to an end this summer, as the 34-year-old is hanging up his boots after making over 500 appearances for the Hammers, the club captain’s departure will leave a rather significant hole in the middle of David Moyes’ midfield.
Indeed, while the £900k-rated man has been far from a first-team regular in recent seasons, having so far made just four Premier League appearances in the current campaign, as well as starting eight league fixtures last term, the veteran has nevertheless played an important role for the Irons from the bench, as well as in the various domestic and European cup competitions.
As such, this role would appear to be perfect for one of the club’s up and coming central midfielders next season, allowing them to gain valuable first-team experience in the cups, while also being used as a substitute in the Premier League.
And, considering just how impressive Conor Coventry has been while out on loan at Milton Keynes Dons this term, the 21-year-old would very much appear to be the prime candidate to replace Noble this summer.
Following his January switch to Liam Manning’s MK Dons side, Coventry immediately established himself as a starter for the League One club, having played the full 90 minutes in each of his side’s last seven league fixtures.
However, not only has the £270k-rated midfielder been a near-constant presence in the middle of the park, but he has also highly impressed over his eight appearances for the Championship hopefuls, registering one assist and creating one big chance for his teammates, as well as making an average of 44.8 passes – 0.8 of which have been key – 0.5 interceptions, 1.6 tackles and winning 4.8 duels per game.
Arguably the West Ham loanee’s best performance for MK Dons came in the recent 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic, in which Coventry enjoyed 95 touches of the ball, completed 79 passes – at a success rate of 93%, with two being key – made two tackles, won six duels and registered one assist.
These returns saw the £5.4k-per-week midfielder earn an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.7, ranking him as the best player in the match, while the MK Dons Twitter administrator stated after the victory: “Conor Coventry is EVERYWHERE.”
Furthermore, ExWHUemployee recently revealed that the 21-year-old is extremely highly thought of by a number of Moyes’ backroom staff at the London Stadium, as well as suggesting that the youngster could be given a shot in the Hammers first team next season.
Regarding Coventry, the West Ham insider said: “I can’t understand why we signed [Alex] Kral, especially when we had Conor who had done really well in pre-season. I think the plan was to give him more games so he can come back even more experienced, but I think he would have gained as much from staying with us and getting that Europa League experience than perhaps going to MK Dons.
“But, if MK Dons get promoted, which they’re looking like they will, either via the play-offs or via an automatic spot – now, that’s a good experience to have. And, hopefully, he can come back in the new season and prove himself, which I believe he will be given the chance. Coaches like [Kevin] Nolan and [Paul] Nevin especially, really rate him and I think they will give him a go.”
As such, should the player who Darragh MacAnthony dubbed a “wonderful talent” go on to replicate the form he has shown at MK Dons for West Ham early next season, Moyes could well already have found Noble’s long-term successor in East London.