West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has hinted that star attacker Marko Arnautovic will return to the Hammers starting line up against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
The mercurial Austrian hasn’t featured from the start since his public pursuit of a financially-lucrative move to China in January, but Pellegrini looks likely to recall him against the Terriers.
“No,” he said at his pre match press conference, as per Football London, when asked if Arnautovic’s bench role meant that he was planning for life without him next term. “I am just thinking about this season, not next season.
“Marko was out of the team for several reasons. First because his mind was not right when he had the option to go to China, then he returned but didn’t work for one week and needed time to recover. After that, he was sick. He was going to play against Manchester City but was ill, so there are lots of reasons why he is on the bench. But I think he is ready to return to his position.”
Many West Ham fans will be reading this and thinking ‘about time!’ Arnautovic’s conduct in January was absolutely woeful, but he remains a genuine difference maker on the pitch and is certainly somebody that West Ham need in their line up at the moment. We’ve seen how toothless the Hammers have looked without Arnautovic recently, certainly from open play, and so it makes sense now for Pellegrini to loosen his leash a bit and welcome him back into the fold. The team’s performance against Cardiff last time out was dreadful, but they have the chance to rectify that against Huddersfield on Saturday. However, you have to have Arnautovic starting, you simply have to. It looks like that’s what Pellegrini plans to do, as well. That last sentence, him saying he thinks Arnautovic is ready to return to his position i.e. starting, makes that pretty plain. We’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out for certain, but it looks like that’s the way things are heading.