West Ham United boss David Moyes is known for playing his cards close to his chest when it comes to team selection.
The Scot tends to give very little away regarding injuries and his squad ahead of matches.
Based on West Ham’s form over the last seven months it has certainly been helping.
Clash of the claret and blues
Next up for West Ham is a tough looking trip to Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
Like West Ham, Villa are enjoying a superb season which contrasts hugely to the previous campaign.
The Hammers go into the game off the back of a disappointingly poor performance in a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool last time out. Meanwhile Villa looked good in a 1-0 win over Southampton.
From West Ham’s point of view the big question mark ahead of the game is the involvement of new signing Jesse Lingard.
The Manchester United outcast was signed on loan for the rest of the season and is looking to get his career back on track under Moyes.
Lingard has just 16 games to make his mark
Lingard was not registered in time to face Liverpool. So given that he is cup tied and cannot face Man United in the league, the midfielder only has 16 games he can possibly be involved with for West Ham.
So supporters are keen to see if he can help make a difference.
Indeed many Hammers fans have been calling for the 28-year-old to start against Villa in place of Pablo Fornals – read the full story here.
Now Moyes has dropped a big hint on Lingard’s involvement. And he has suggested the playmaker will be on the bench for the game (whufc.com).
“Jesse Lingard’s fitness levels are fine,” Moyes told whufc.com.
“He’s a lean boy and doesn’t carry any weight so he’s in good shape, and I am sure Manchester United would have kept him in good condition as well.
Moyes drops big hint Lingard won’t start at Villa
“More than anything for Jesse, it’s just if he’s completely match ready to play but you only get that by playing matches as well.
“As long as everything is fine, I hope to have him involved. We’ll have him in and around the squad but will he start? I couldn’t confirm that and I wouldn’t confirm it anyway.”
Having played just twice in seven months and only 11 games in the last season and a half, it is fair to say Lingard won’t be match fit.
So the dilemma for Moyes will be whether to start Lingard and bring him off when he tires. Or bring him on as a fresh pair of legs for a second half cameo.
It appears he may opt for the latter if his comments are anything to go by.
Who he will replace as and when is anyone’s guess.
But competition for places will hopefully inspire a stronger performance than West Ham produced against Liverpool.