West Ham United captain Mark Noble is facing the very realistic possibility of being axed from David Moyes’s matchday squad.
Noble may be a West Ham legend. But his time as a regular starter in a fully fit West Ham midfield are gone.
Now even his place in the matchday squad looks under threat.
Noble was an unused substitute during West Ham’s amazing 3-3 comeback draw at bitter rivals Tottenham.
Substitutes Andriy Yarmolenko, Robert Snodgrass and of course Manuel Lanzini all made a big impact when they came on.
Moyes facing his toughest call yet with Noble set for axe
Yarmolenko was crucial in setting up West Ham’s second goal and stopping Gareth Bale making it 4-2 late on.
And Snodgrass won the free-kick which led to Lanzini’s thunderbolt equaliser at the death.
With the Hammers playing well and – for the moment at least – nursing no injuries, there are now serious question marks over Noble’s inclusion in the squad for Manchester City on Saturday.
That is because Moyes must somehow find room for exciting new boy Said Benrahma and £45m striker Sebastien Haller in the squad.
Haller was absent for Spurs with a knock suffered in training.
But he will be fit for the game against City at the London Stadium.
And that gives Moyes possibly the toughest decision of his West Ham career to date, having to drop legend Noble.
West Ham must make room for Benrahma and Haller
Moyes can only have seven subs. He will have Darren Randolph in as back-up for Lukasz Fabianski so there are only six spaces available.
The defensive back-ups on the bench will likely be Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks with Craig Dawson and Ben Johnson missing out.
That leaves four spaces between six players – Benrahma, Haller, Lanzini, Yarmolenko, Snodgrass and Noble.
Haller must take one of them as he is West Ham’s only striker alternative.
Being dropped would be harsh on Lanzini or Yarmolenko. But Moyes will want at least one midfield sub capable of playing defensively.
Given Snodgrass’s delivery and ability to play across all four midfield positions, that will likely see him get the nod.
Watershed moment for legendary Hammers captain
So it may be that one of Lanzini or Yarmolenko makes way alongside Noble to allow Benrahma to come in.
Of course Moyes may elect to allow Benrahma more time to settle in before including him in the squad. Even then Noble would still likely be the one to drop out for Haller.
West Ham fans are excited to see their new signing in action.
It’s too early to say this is the beginning of the end for Noble.
One or two injuries and he will be right back in the heart of the Hammers midfield.
Earlier this year Noble hit out in an interview with talkSPORT saying West Ham must stop relying on him and needed to sign young, hungry players.
Well that time may have come and this does feel like something of a watershed moment for Noble.
But knowing Mr West Ham he will still be there with the squad, encouraging his teammates regardless.