Mark Noble may not be fit enough to face Manchester City in West Ham’s opening Premier League game of the new campaign, according to manager Manuel Pellegrini.
The Hammers’ skipper has not trained since picking up a dead leg in training ahead of the preseason clash with Fulham last weekend, but is expected to return to action at some point during the week.
Pellegrini is of the opinion, however, that Saturday’s meeting with the champions could still come too soon for his captain.
As quoted by Football.London, he said: “I think that Mark it is difficult for him [to face City].”
This would be a real blow for the Hammers. Noble is a really understated member of their side, and there are even some who may argue that he shouldn’t be in the starting 11 at all given the influx of options Pellegrini now has at his disposal in the centre of the park, but there is no denying that the Irons look like a much more secure outfit with him in the side. The thrilling 5-3 win over Hertha Berlin in midweek was a fine example of what Noble does bring to the team. With Declan Rice left to sit as the only truly defensively minded midfielder, the Hammers were much more vulnerable, and the backline was left exposed far more often than it would usually have been. His average of 1.8 tackles per 90 minutes last season, plus his pass success rate of 85.3%, as per Whoscored, show exactly the sort of meat and two veg, bread and butter footballer that the skipper is. Those simple skills will be missed against City if he doesn’t make the cut, and Pellegrini will no doubt be thinking of viable alternatives that help to ensure his side aren’t steamrollered next weekend.