West Ham United are set to renew their battle for Premier League survival when the season resumes against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
West Ham were due to play Wolves when the season was shutdown due to the global health crisis.
Three months on West Ham face nine games in six weeks to stay up.
There are a host of alterations and temporary rules in place to help clubs.
West Ham to face Wolves three months after shutdown stopped original game
Two of those are five substitutions per game rather than three and matchday squads of 20 players as oppose to 17.
A bigger squad means more options and less of a squad selection headache for West Ham boss David Moyes.
But it also means anyone fit and available who is not selected will be left feeling a touch out in the cold.
So which players might fail to make the cut for West Ham’s first 20-man squad against Wolves?
Here’s our prediction about seven players who might miss out and why.
Seven players who might miss first 20-man squad
Now seen as the number three goalkeeper David Martin will likely miss out on the squad. He is a great character around the dressing room, though, so may take it on himself to support the team from the sidelines if permitted.
There is still no news on whether Pablo Zabaleta will be retained for an extra month. The veteran has barely featured and Moyes has used Jeremy Ngakia ahead of him when Ryan Fredericks and Ben Johnson were injured. Ngakia’s contract impasse complicates things. But with him, Fredericks and Johnson all fit including another right-back in the squad might be overkill. Indeed West Ham may have decided to save £300,000 in wages by cutting Zabaleta at the end of June to help towards Ngakia’s demands.
The ageing flop has not contributed anything positive to West Ham on the pitch since signing. And he looks certain to leave on June 30th. It is therefore highly unlikely he will make the 20-man squad for Wolves.
West Ham’s biggest worry ahead of their Premier League return is the absence of key defender Angelo Ogbonna. The Italian has not been able to train fully or play in either of the club’s friendlies against QPR and Crystal Palace. That could see young untested centre back Goncalo Cardoso make the squad.
The captain is an injury concern after not featuring in West Ham’s 2-1 friendly win over Crystal Palace at the weekend. He did feature against QPR before that, though.
Another injury doubt after missing the Palace friendly. He too featured – and scored – against QPR a few days before.
The £8million flop scored against QPR in last week’s friendly. But with Antonio, Bowen and Haller all fit and Yarmolenko also capable of playing in a forward role, Ajeti will miss out.
Predicted 20-man West Ham squad to face Wolves:
Fabianski, Randolph, Cresswell, Balbuena, Diop, Fredericks, Cardoso, Ngakia, Anderson, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Wilshere, Rice, Antonio, Fornals, Johnson, Soucek, Yarmolenko, Haller, Bowen.