David Moyes is facing a massive West Ham selection headache for Everton as he weighs up a big risk factor.
The last international break of the season is coming to a close and West Ham are back in action against former Hammer Frank Lampard’s relegation-threatened Everton this Sunday.
The game is massive for both West Ham and Everton for very different reasons.
Moyes’s boys will be desperate to get back to winning ways in their pursuit of a top six spot after the 3-1 defeat to Spurs last time out.
Lampard’s 17th placed Toffees are striving to get the points needed to stay up.
Everton put a major spanner in the works for West Ham’s Champions League hopes around the same time last season.
Then Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti parked the bus and alleged Moyes target Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored in a 1-0 smash and grab win. West Ham went on to miss out on a Champions League spot by a solitary win.
This time around Moyes is facing a massive West Ham selection headache for Everton as he weighs up a big risk factor surrounding Jarrod Bowen.
Moyes has been without his star attacker since he hobbled off during the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool at the start of the month.
There was promising news when West Ham confirmed a scan showed no significant damage to Bowen’s foot after that Liverpool game.
Bu then a recent report from The Athletic claimed Bowen had fractured a bone in his foot and may be out longer than first feared.
The claim stated Bowen would potentially miss the game against Everton and both legs of the Europa League quarter-final against Lyon after the international break.
But yesterday there was huge relief when a Hammers insider speaking to Claret and Hugh delivered welcome news that Bowen – and Vladimir Coufal – should be back in contention for Everton.
That in itself gives Moyes a massive welcome West Ham selection headache for Everton as he weighs up the risk factor of playing Bowen in the game.
Does Moyes risk bringing Bowen back into the side against the Toffees with the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final against Lyon looming large on the horizon just four days later?
Bowen may need a game to get his sharpness back. On the flip side, Moyes must decide whether it is worth the risk knowing how crucial the Europa game is, particularly with the disadvantage of playing at home first.
It may be that Moyes decides to bring Bowen on as a sub to get some minutes in his legs with a view to starting him on the Thursday against Lyon.
The dilemma perfectly sums up the issue Moyes has with this shallow West Ham squad.
If West Ham had more options and more quality in depth, Bowen could be rested without too much concern.
But the fact is West Ham desperately need him in their bid to finish in the top six. And he is also crucial for their hopes of making the Europa League semi-finals.
Analysing both sides of the coin the Europa League presents West Ham with the chance to end a 42 year trophy drought and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history in one fell swoop.
But if West Ham do not make the top six there will be no repeat of this Europa League adventure the team and fans have enjoyed so much.
It will be a big decision for the manager but a welcome one. West Ham fans will just be grateful he is back in contention if that is the case come the weekend.