West Ham United host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon in what is set to be a major contest in the race for Europe.
Both sides are in the hunt to achieve European qualification at the end of the season, with the hosts one place above their visitors in sixth, as well as having a two-point advantage.
However, the Hammers, who are in shaky form with one Premier League win in their last five outings, face one of the top-flight’s best sides currently, having won five of their last seven league games.
With the contest being a major fixture for the Hammers’ season, it’s crucial that manager David Moyes gets his team selection spot on, and that is why the Scotsman should hand 22-year-old right-back, Ben Johnson, a start against Bruno Lage’s men.
The Englishman’s campaign has petered out in recent weeks, having played eight consecutive league matches from October to December, with Johnson not playing for the first time in the top-flight since New Year’s Day last time out against Newcastle United.
With fellow right-back Ryan Fredericks booked in the first half of last Saturday’s 1-1 draw, Johnson was called upon to play the second half to protect the 29-year-old from being sent off.
First-choice right-back Vladimir Coufal is set to spend the next couple of weeks on the sidelines after undergoing groin surgery and therefore there was certainly a claim for the 22-year-old to start in the Czech Republic international’s place.
Whilst in the Hammers side, boyhood fan Johnson was involved in an impressive run of four consecutive victories over Everton, Tottenham, Aston Villa (whom Johnson scored against) and Liverpool which saw the East London outfit consolidate a place in the top-four.
When the 22-year-old has been in the starting lineup, West Ham have lost just two of 17 matches in all competitions, winning 13 of them, a seriously impressive record.
Dealing with the in-form Rayan Ait-Nouri will be a tricky task, but not one that the right-back isn’t capable of overcoming, particularly after strong performances against both Liverpool and Tottenham, with David Moyes describing his performance against Spurs as “fabulous.”
From a defensive perspective, the full-back is versatile, having played left-back on occasion this term as well as playing at centre-back in an U23s game in August; the 22-year-old also played at left-midfield against Chelsea in December.
West Ham have kept six clean sheets in matches that Johnson has appeared in this campaign and with the right-back’s excellent winning record too, it appears to be a no brainer for Moyes to start the 22-year-old against Wolves on Sunday as the Hammers look to further support their bid for Champions League qualification.