West Ham have a number of ‘knocks and niggles’ as well as COVID cases to contend with ahead of their Premier League clash with Leeds United on Sunday.
David Moyes confirmed that his squad has been tested to its limits in recent weeks with the rearranged match against Norwich a particular bone of contention for the manager.
The original date for the Norwich clash was December 18 but following a COVID outbreak and injury issues in the Canaries camp the game was postponed. The fixture was played on Wednesday evening with West Ham winning 2-0, but Moyes was not happy with the timing of the match.
“I felt that it was incorrect that this game [against Norwich] should be put in,” Moyes said.
“We’ve just come out of a really, really busy schedule and we’ve had no games off due to anything we’ve done with COVID but for some reason, we are pushed in as the first rearranged game in the calendar which I find extremely strange,” he added.
West Ham took the three points needed against Norwich but with three games in eight days the manager is aware he needs to manage his players’ workloads, particularly those such as Michail Antonio, who are more prone to injury.
Asked if Antonio is capable of playing three games in a week the manager believes he is but added a note of caution: “I think he is in a better place than he has been before, but here is the but.
“We do still need to manage him. If we hadn’t had the game in midweek against Norwich, which we didn’t expect, then when you’re playing the likes of Leeds United and the level you need to be at you need your best players fit and available. But the Norwich game became really important for us, we were slightly short in numbers for that one too.
“We’d like Mich to be able to do it but we are aware we need to look after him. We’ve tried to do that in the European and cup games too so we’re hoping his load is not too much, but we’re certainly mindful of it.”
Antonio is not the only player Moyes is wary of overplaying with Aaron Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks both recently returning from injury.
“Ryan picked up a knock on his knee in the Leeds game,” Moyes added. “That’s why I’m saying we are carrying a few knocks and niggles around at the moment with different players. Cressie came through the game and he felt fine. I thought he played really well for his first game back after that time but then you have to consider how quickly the second game comes around for them and how he’s going to be.
“So they are the sort of dilemmas you have but we get on with it and we well know it will be a long hard slog against Leeds, it always is.”
With injuries and a hectic fixture list to contend with, Moyes admitted he is looking to strengthen in the transfer market but has yet to see any action in the window.
“We’re asking about players and other clubs that are trying to get them are asking about players and it is taking a bit of time for things, the domino effect to really happen,” Moyes said. “We’ve made some offers behind the scenes for players, we’ve tried to look at situations so it’s not as if we’re not doing it at the moment. You just need to look around football and see that there’s not a lot of deals happening at the moment. The general feeling is that it is a bit tougher for whatever reason that may be. I’m hopeful we can pull something off.”
Moyes added: “I would like to bring some news faces in if I could to add to the group of players I have got. But we will try and do it as well as we can. At the moment the ones we are looking for or the ones we would like to get are either not available or we just can’t get. We will keep looking and see what we can get between now and the end of the window.”