West Ham may have just dropped a big hint David Moyes will bench star Vladimir Coufal for the game against Newcastle on Saturday.
West Ham entertain Newcastle at the London Stadium in the lunchtime kick-off with both sides needing to win for very different reasons.
But could Moyes be about to make a big decision on one of his star defenders by dropping Coufal?
The Czech right-back was an absolute revelation for West Ham when he signed for a bargain £5.5m from Slavia Prague last season.
Shackling a string of the best players around, the tough-tackling and swashbuckling right-back was key to helping West Ham record their best ever Premier League points total and Europa League qualification.
His assists were crucial too as he laid on seven goals for teammates last term. This season he continues to offer that threat having assisted three goals in the Premier League so far for West Ham.
But the 29-year-old looks a shadow of the player fans fell in love with last season.
Coufal has seriously struggled to reach the high standards he set last season, when he was widely regarded by fans and pundits as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League.
He was torn to shreds by Harvey Barnes in the 2-2 draw at Leicester last time out.
Coufal gave Barnes far too much time to send over a cross for Leicester’s second goal. It got so bad that David Moyes had to waste a substitute bringing him off for Ryan Fredericks.
After the game pundits Micah Richards and Jamie Carragher were critical of Coufal as were West Ham fans.
Yesterday West Ham received a blow and Newcastle a boost when pictures showed injury doubt Allan Saint-Maximin training ahead of the game.
Saint-Maximin is one of the best and most exciting attackers outside the top six.
And he has a good record against West Ham.
With Coufal out of form, the Frenchman’s availability for Newcastle is a big worry for West Ham.
West Ham may have dropped big hint David Moyes will bench star Vladimir Coufal for Newcastle
So has West Ham’s website dropped a big hint that Moyes will bench Coufal for Newcastle in a piece on Fredericks?
The site has published a feature on Fredericks which will appear in the West Ham vs Newcastle matchday programme.
That might suggest to some he could be set for a key role against the Magpies where his pace may be seen as a big asset to deal with Saint-Maximin.
And the feature suggested Fredericks will be ready should he get the nod over Coufal.
“Fredericks’ standout moment of the season so far came at Old Trafford, where his low cross was converted by Manuel Lanzini to secure a 1-0 EFL Cup third-round win,” the feature on West Ham’s website states.
“Since then, a combination of competition for places and injuries have restricted his appearances, but the 29-year-old is fit and ready for action should he be called upon for Saturday’s Premier League fixture with Newcastle United at London Stadium.”