West Ham United will be looking to put one foot into the Europa League knockout stages with a victory over in Belgium later this evening.
David Moyes and his side face Genk just two weeks after defeating them 3-0 at the London Stadium to go six points clear at the top of Group H.
The Irons boss is facing a number of selection headaches heading into kickoff, particularly as they have the small test of Liverpool on Sunday in the Premier League, where they are currently occupying a spot in the top four.
It could be a wise decision to utilise some rotation, in which Vladimir Coufal must come back into the starting XI, having barely featured since suffering an injury.
The 29-year-old right-back missed the wins over Everton and Spurs before coming off the bench for the final minute during the Hammers’ 4-1 whitewash of Villa at the weekend.
He managed only eight minutes last week when West Ham knocked trophy holders Manchester City out of the Carabao Cup, too.
Coufal has been Moyes first-choice in the role over the past 18 months, so it would be smart to hand him some valuable minutes in a bid to get him back up to speed quicker.
Ben Johnson has deputised ever so well but you’d imagine the Scotsman will revert back to his Czech Republic beast sooner or later.
The £18m-rated dynamo is a very crucial player to West Ham’s system. Only fellow full-back Aaron Cresswell (eight) provided more assists than him (seven) last season, whilst he is currently averaging 1.9 tackles and 1.1 key passes per game in the Premier League, as per WhoScored.
That sort of skillset could absolutely terrorise the opposition, both in defence and in the final third as he’s physically dominating at the back and can clearly create things past the halfway line.
“He’s just one of those players that’s 7/10 minimum every time you watch him play,” claimed Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football [4th May, 22:24pm]. “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.”
Also dubbed a “machine” by club captain Mark Noble to ‘That Peter Crouch Podcast’ earlier this year, Coufal should be starting in Belgium this evening as the Irons look to effectively seal qualification into the next round.
AND in other news, West Ham insider delivers worrying Declan Rice transfer claim…