West Ham star Craig Dawson has spoken up for struggling teammate Issa Diop after fan criticism looked to spell the end of his Hammers career.

When Diop was substituted to more than a smattering of jeers from West Ham fans during the 3-2 home defeat to Leeds last month, it threatened to be the beginning of the end for his Hammers career.

With Kurt Zouma returning to the fold and the January window open, Diop’s abject display was seen as his last chance by many.

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With no new arrivals in the transfer window and Dawson given a well earned rest, Diop found himself back in the West Ham starting XI against non league Kidderminster Harriers in that FA Cup tie.

And anyone who thought the former France youth international was bad against Leeds saw the once £75m-rated (Telegraph) defender hit a new low.

Substituted at half-time for Dawson, surely this was the last straw even with West Ham’s threadbare squad?

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But it seems the book is not quite closed on Diop’s West Ham career just yet. Indeed a man of the match performance – with an assist to boot – in difficult circumstances at Leicester may be the start of a new chapter.

It’s perhaps too strong and too soon to call it a comeback.

But there was enough about Diop’s performance for West Ham as a last minute replacement for Zouma at the King Power to suggest that player once described by Jose Mourinho as a ‘monster’ is still there somewhere.

Leicester City v West Ham United - Premier League
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What many West Ham fans may not realise, though, is that the defender is a quiet, reserved character.

And presumably not one to hit back at those who have criticised him following his excellent performance.

Diop may prefer to let his actions speak for him in the run in.

Leicester City v West Ham United - Premier League
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

West Ham star Craig Dawson speaks up for struggling teammate Issa Diop after fan criticism

But West Ham star Dawson has spoken peaks up for his struggling teammate Diop after fan criticism in the aftermath of that much improved display.

“To come in so late, fair credit to Issa as he was very good,” Dawson told the club’s official website on Diop.

“It was difficult for him to come in so late with little warning, so he was good. He was excellent.

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“Fair play to him because he’s been working hard on the training pitch and he’s been excellent in training, so he’s got an opportunity and he did very well.

“Issa is very quiet but we’ve started to hear him on the pitch which is good. He was excellent, so well done to him.”

It is great to see such togetherness within the squad given the controversy surrounding the club of late.

West Ham will certainly need it as they fight on three fronts in the last few months of the campaign.

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