West Ham set to recall Arnautovic to starting line-up
PUBLISHED: 09:30 15 March 2019
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Hammers could ring the changes for visit of rock-bottom Huddersfieldx
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has hinted that Marko Arnautovic will start in tomorrow’s Premier League clash with bottom-club Huddersfield Town.
The Austria international has not scored since the FA Cup clash with Birmingham City and not started a game since the trip to Wolves at the end of January.
But the manager feels he is ready to go back into the starting line-up tomorrow, despite the likelihood that he will leave for China in the summer.
“I am thinking of this season, not next season,” said the boss at his pre-match press conference.
“Marko was out of the team for several reasons. First because his mind was out when he had the option to go to China.
“After that when he returned he need some time to recover his performance and then he was sick when he was going to start against Manchester City.
“So there are a lot of reasons why he has been on the bench, but I think he is ready to return to his position, I think he is now 100 per cent mentally.”
Pellegrini could be tempted to ring the changes after the dismal defeat at Cardiiff City and that could see Javier Hernandez back on the bench after his dive against the Bluebirds.
So did the boss speak to the Mexican about that?
“I always speak to the players about what we are doing well and what we are doing wrong,” he said.
“There are some instant moments where players do not realise what they are doing, but I don’t think this action from ‘Chicharito’ is normal for him.”
Striker Andy Carroll will be missing after picking up an ankle injury and it is unclear whether we will see him play for the Hammers again with his contract running out in the summer.
“Andy felt pain in his ankle, so we must wait until he has been examined properly, so we might find out next week,” said Pellegrini.
“I think he will return to play either here or with anothere team.”
Other changes we may see tomorrow is a recall for centre-back Fabian Balbuena in place of Angelo Ogbonna, with Samir Nasri replacing Manuel Lanzini behind Arnautovic.
Michail Antonio may also start, possibly in place of Felipe Anderson, who has played in every Premier League game this season, but was replaced at half time against Cardiff.
One man who should start is midfielder Declan Rice who got an England call-up for the first time this week.
“I was not surprised because when you pick a squad you must see who are the best players at that moment and I believe Declan deserves it,” said the boss.
“It was a big decision for him, but I think his performances allow him to play at any level he wants. He is in a very good moment.”
West Ham will be hot favourites to win against relegatrion-doomed Huddersfield, but the manager wants his team to play well.
“I think we always need to win, it doesn’t matter who we are playing.
“I don’t think we should be happy with ninth in the table, you always demand more of yourself and we will try to get as many points as we can from the last eight games.”
Kick-off tomorrow is at 3pm.