West Ham United boss David Moyes has been handed a timely injury boost ahead of their Europa Conference League clash against FCSB on Thursday night, as Lucas Paqueta is inching closer to a return.
What’s the latest?
According to injury expert Ben Dinnery, who was speaking to GIVEMESPORT, the Brazilian playmaker could be ready to garner some playing time, having been absent since he picked up a shoulder issue during the Irons’ 1-1 draw with Southampton last month.
“Everything that we know, up until this point, indicates that he should be very close for Thursday. If not, then we’re maybe looking at Sunday,” he revealed.
Big boost for Moyes
The dynamic star arrived at the London Stadium for a club-record fee of £51m in August, and the Hammers’ boss will be delighted to have such a pivotal player available for selection again.
Every player needs time to adapt to the Premier League, so it will have been frustrating that the 25-year-old picked up an injury just as he was starting to blossom at his new club, having laid on an assist in West Ham’s win over Fulham in October, a match in which he received a SofaScore rating of 7.5, the joint-highest of any player.
The creative midfielder, once dubbed “one of the most watchable players in the world” by journalist Robin Bairner, has been capped 34 times by Brazil, scoring seven goals, and recorded an impressive 15 goal contributions in 35 appearances for Olympique Lyon last season, with the hope being that he can now kick on and replicate that form in a West Ham shirt.
It will also be welcome news for Moyes as his side now enters a busy period before the start of the World Cup, having four games to get through in the upcoming ten days, so he needs as many players as possible to choose from to manage this spell, with tiredness potentially a factor.
Getting Paqueta back up to speed with match fitness with some minutes in Thursday’s dead-rubber clash could be vital for their more important upcoming fixtures.
Fellow summer arrival Flynn Downes has been uninspiring in the attacking midfield role, in which the £150k-per-week magician normally operates. Such as in the 1-0 defeat against Manchester United at the weekend, where he was ineffectual after creating zero big chances for his side before being replaced by Pablo Fornals with 15 minutes to spare, who managed to muster up one big chance in his much more limited time on the pitch.
With Paqueta back, the Hammers have a proven creative force back in their midfield, who can now begin to provide much-needed service for striker Gianluca Scamacca, which has been absent in recent weeks.