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Returning star Craig Dawson simply must start at Burnley to keep West Ham's Champions League hopes alive despite fan concerns
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Returning star Craig Dawson simply must start at Burnley to keep West Ham's Champions League hopes alive despite fan concerns

West Ham United boss David Moyes is expected to be boosted by the return of three key players for Burnley.

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Reports suggest Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku will return to the West Ham squad for the crunch game on Monday night.

And defender Craig Dawson also returns after his one-game suspension.

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Dawson doubted as dip in performance has West Ham fans worried

There has been much debate among West Ham fans since Dawson was sent off in the 3-2 defeat at Newcastle two weeks ago.

Dawson was written off by underwhelmed West Ham fans when he arrived on loan from Watford.

But he surprised everyone with his supreme form since breaking into the side over the winter.

West Ham fans have noticed Dawson’s form has dipped of late, though, just as the former West Brom man’s move was made permanent.

Two own goals and some nervy displays uncharacteristic of his time at West Ham so far were followed by the ridiculously clumsy double booking at Newcastle.

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Why Dawson simply must start for West Ham at Burnley to keep Champions League dream alive

That left West Ham to play over an hour with 10 men. The Hammers fought back from 2-0 down to 2-2 but ended up losing in the dying moments.

That – and defeat to Chelsea in Dawson’s absence – has dented West Ham’s bid for a Champions League spot.

But despite fan concerns Dawson simply must go straight back into the side for Burnley if West Ham are to get anything at Turf Moor.

West Ham have been at their best with Dawson alongside Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell this season.

Moyes looks likely to be able to reinstate that dynamic at the back.

And the Hammers tend to struggle against Burnley’s aerial prowess and physical presence.

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Own goals, sending off and drop off in form point to fact centre back needed a rest

With Chris Wood in fine form and Ashley Barnes expected to return for Burnley, Dawson is exactly what West Ham need to combat that threat.

Those doubting Dawson, must remember that after so long without playing any football he suddenly played over 20 games on the spin for West Ham including cup competitions.

So perhaps his leggy performances of late were a sign he just needed a bit of a rest.

The suspension has given him two weeks of recovery and he should be straight back in the team alongside Ogbonna in a four or Ogbonna and Cresswell in a five.

West Ham have been less of a threat from set pieces without him and Cresswell so that will come into Moyes’s thinking too.

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