After a three-week break from competitive action, which includes a friendly trip to face National League Dagenham & Redbridge, David Moyes’ West Ham United welcome Southampton to the London Stadium in the Premier League, here’s five players that he must consider dropping for the relegation six-pointer.
The England shot-stopper was brought in for his first league start since the back end of November in the home defeat against Burnley and failed to impress just when he needed to.
While the Clarets first two strikes, netted by Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood were scarcely Hart’s fault, the third, also scored by Wood, was made by his glaring error.
Icelandic Johann Berg Gudmundsson tried his luck from range and caught the Manchester City loanee off-guard, spilling a routine effort straight into the path of the Kiwi to convert for 0-3.
Despite this, Hart was still picked by England boss Gareth Southgate for the latest squad, although he is not expected to keep his starting spot for the Three Lions ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
Breathing down his neck at domestic level is Adrian San-Miguel, the man who originally replaced him as No1 back in December 2017, the Spaniard is now being tipped by many to get back his place against the Saints.
The veteran Welshman is often on the receiving end of adoration from the Claret & Blue Army due to his cult hero like status, serving the club for over ten years and counting over two separate spells.
Given recent injuries to the likes of Winston Reid and the sale of fellow centre-half Jose Fonte to the Chinese Super League, the 34-year-old has been enjoying a run of starts.
The last four times that he had made the XI combined, the Hammers have conceded an average of three goals per game and this can be partly blamed on mistakes by the former Wales international.
Examples of these include giving the ball away softly for Brighton & Hove Albion to score a third in an emphatic away loss ay the Amex Stadium and reacting slowly to danger for Burnley’s second in the aforementioned most recent defeat.
One thing the defender has got going for him, however, is the clear lack of a back-up in the centre-half position and defence in general, many would argue that young Irishman Declan Rice is ready to step into his boots, though.
The young ex-Three Lions left-back has had a tough time of things over the last few months in Claret & Blue, much like many other members of Moyes’ back five.
Cresswell, since before Christmas, has been forced to feature in the left centre-back position of the five at the back and initially looked to have adapted to the new role well.
But, the former Ipswich Town star has been found out several times by opposition attackers over the recent run of three weeks on the spin, looking way out of position in the three.
This came after many believed that he would be able to slide into the left wing-back role whilst Arthur Masuaku was suspended, that position has instead by mostly filled by veteran Patrice Evra and Michail Antonio.
The obvious replacement for Cresswell would also be Rice, although Evra has also featured at centre-back in the past, the chances of him returning to the left, a role that saw him pick up the 2014/2015 Hammer of the Year playing, are even slimmer now that Masuaku is back from a six-game lay-off.
Further forward in midfield, the Senegal captain Kouyate has majorly struggled for form under Moyes and is now staring a possible exile from the team right in the face.
With Pedro Obiang and Edimilson Fernandes both seemingly out for the season, the Lion of Teranga has slotted in alongside Mark Noble in a central two since January.
This formation is yet to yield the desired results for Moyes, with Kouyate receiving criticism from left, right and centre for sloppy and lazy performances of late.
Losing his place in the starting Xl could be the worst possible thing for the robust midfielder, just months away from leading his nation into their first World Cup since 2002, but may provide him with the determination he needs to recapture his form.
Waiting in the wings is Academy product Josh Cullen, who has stated on numerous occasions his hunger to help his boyhood club beat the drop, Rice can also fill in, in that role, some youthful energy in midfield may just be what the Irons need most presently.
When Portuguese International Mario joined up on loan from Italian giants Inter Milan during the January transfer window there was more than the fair share of hype about what he might bring to East London.
The attacker earned rave reviews in his first few starts for the club, but since then, he has been in and out of the Xl as his once-lethal form has steadily started to decline.
For the Clarets defeat, he was brought in to replace Javier Hernandez and failed to do his manager’s decision any diligence at all, never posing a threat to Nick Pope’s goal and displaying an atrocious quality of delivery into the box.
Many supporters are now starting to realise why the man who kept his place in Fernando Santos’ most recent International squad, has been an outcast at Inter for much of the season.
It’s being predicted that Chicharito will replace Mario for the Saints clash as a straight swap, though seeing as the EURO 2016 winner has featured in a variety of attacking positions so far, other options include fellow January capture Jordan Hugill, who is yet to start for the East Londoners.
So, now that you have heard five West Ham stars that should and are likely to be omitted from the first-team for the remaining eight matches of the 2017/2018 PL term, do you agree with our choices? Head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to have your say.