West Ham United embark on a historic occasion later this evening as they welcome Eintracht Frankfurt for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final clash at the London Stadium.
And manager David Moyes has been handed some positive news heading into kickoff.
According to well-regarded Hammers insiders Claret and Hugh, centre-back Kurt Zouma has made a ‘rapid recovery’ from his injury and he now has an outside chance of making the squad for tonight’s encounter.
Whilst it is more likely that he will be involved for the second leg in Germany, this will certainly be hugely encouraging news for both the Scot and the Irons’ faithful heading into the final few matches of the season.
A few days later, The Evening Standard reported that the Hammers feared his season could be over, joining Angelo Ogbonna on the long-term treatment table.
Moyes has suffered from a defensive crisis in recent weeks, with Issa Diop yet another centre-back suffering from an injury, whilst Craig Dawson’s red card against Chelsea on Sunday means the Hammers boss has no senior central defensive options heading into their Premier League clash with Arsenal.
Thus, a return for Zouma, who had been ever-present in the Irons’ backline, could be a very timely and major boost to both Moyes and the squad.
As per WhoScored figures, the Frenchman has rates out as West Ham’s best centre-back (6.79) – some way clear of Dawson (6.70), Ogbonna (6.66) and Diop (6.46).
Only midfield monsters Declan Rice (1.7) and Thomas Soucek (1.6) have averaged more interceptions per game than Zouma (1.5) this campaign, whilst he is the best ball-playing defender, having averaged an 86.5% passing accuracy when averaging over 40 passes per game.
As per the report above, a key Hammers source has told Claret and Hugh that Zouma has a ‘small chance’ to be involved this evening and there’s a ‘very real possibility’ he’s involved in next week’s second leg.
Moyes dubbed his summer signing “exceptional” earlier in the campaign, so he’ll be delighted to see the £25m-rated titan nearing a return when there’s a place in the Europa League final and in the Premier League’s top six up for grabs.