David Moyes could be without one of his key West Ham stars as they return to Europa League action this evening…
The Irons welcome Austrian outfit Rapid Wien to the London Stadium as they host their first-ever group stage game but the 58-year-old may rue the absence of right-back Vladimir Coufal, who is “doubtful” ahead of kick-off.
That’s according to the Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser, who delivered a fresh update on the shape of the Hammers’ squad this week.
“David Moyes and Declan Rice speaking ahead of Rapid Vienna tomorrow night. Confirms Fredericks is out, Coufal doubtful too so a little short at right-back,” he tweeted.
If the Czech Republic international is missing tonight, then it will certainly leave the Hammers looking a little weaker and given recent upsets in Europe like Sheriff’s stunning win over Real Madrid, no opposition should be taken lightly.
What makes Coufal’s potential absence even worse is the fact that his back-up, Ryan Fredericks, has been ruled out, meaning academy graduate Ben Johnson is the only other option available.
The 29-year-old is a crucial cog to Moyes’ system, having registered seven assists in the Premier League last season. A feat only bettered by his full-back counterpart Aaron Cresswell (eight).
He is just as influential defensively, too.
As per WhoScored, Coufal ended the season with a squad-high average of 2.6 tackles per game, whilst he also managed an average of 2.6 clearances and 1.2 interceptions per game.
His form led to some high acclaim after Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher touted him to be in the conversation for one of the signings of the season.
He told Monday Night Football [4th May, 22:24pm]:
“I think he’s been one of the signings of the season. We talk about [Tomas] Soucek, but Coufal whether it’s right wing-back or right full-back at different times, he’s just one of those players that’s 7/10 minimum every time you watch him play,” claimed the ex-Liverpool defender.
“He’s the type of player you’d love to play with him. A manager’s dream, never injured, he’s there, week in week out.”
On the above evidence, Moyes could really miss Coufal’s presence this evening and that should leave him hugely concerned heading into the encounter.
The Hammers will be looking to extend their fine form this campaign but without such a key cog, it makes it a little harder, that’s for sure.