West Ham boss David Moyes is facing a challenging decision as his side head to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup this evening.
The 58-year-old is blessed with a fully fit squad to choose from and now has Michail Antonio back from suspension after he received his marching orders late on in their 0-0 draw with Southampton over a week ago.
He did not feature against the Red Devils on Sunday afternoon and the Irons were pretty much punished for it as they desperately missed his explosive pace, tireless work rate and lethal finishing.
Of course, the result could have gone very differently had Mark Noble slotted home that last-gasp penalty but even so, Moyes and co could have done with the presence of the 31-year-old talisman.
But with games coming thick and fast before the second international break of the 2021/22 season, can the Scotsman afford to risk Antonio here tonight?
It’ll come down to whether or not the EFL Cup is in his priorities this campaign, because it could represent the perfect opportunity to rotate and rest several key stars.
Players like Tomas Soucek badly need a break, with Leeds United in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon before their second Europa League group game against Rapid Wien in a week’s time.
Starting him in a game that could be perceived as a dead-rubber would certainly be a risk from Moyes, so if he feels as if he can continue the Hammers’ fine form in other competitions, then he should be bold and keep Antonio fresh by not starting him tonight.
The £13m-rated forward, who earns a reported £70k-per-week at the London Stadium, has already found the net five times from five appearances, as well as providing three assists, via Transfermarkt, so there’s no denying that he’s a crucial, crucial part of this team.
Often described as “unplayable” by journalists aplenty, Antonio must not feature against United this evening and as huge a call that is, it’ll be for the greater good in the long run.