Said Benrahma will not be back in time to face Manchester United, according to West Ham boss David Moyes
David Moyes has a late call to make over the inclusion of Kurt Zouma and Tomas Soucek in his starting XI to take on Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.
The decision over Said Benrahma appears to have been taken out f the manager's hands with the Algeria international not returning to England in time after Africa Cup of Nations duty with his country.
Benrahma was expected to be away with his country until February 6 with the reigning African champions going into this year's AFCON as second-favourites and on the back of a 34-game unbeaten run.
Their shock exit at the group stage brought Hammers fans hope Benrahma would make it back in time to face Manchester United on Saturday, but Moyes has confirmed the mercurial attacker will not be included.
"No, he's not back," Moyes told football.london. "That is partly to do with he flew back into Paris today so it is partly to do with the [COVID] bubble and with different things so we are not sure if we can do it so Said will not be available no."
There was better news for Hammers fans on the Zouma and Soucek front with both men in contention to feature against the Red Devils.
"We've been watching him training and I've got a decision to make as to whether he's ready to play or not. Not sure yet, we need to see," Moyes said on Zouma. "He's had a knee problem and he's recovering from COVID as well which has added to that. We'll need to see. His injury is the big one, the COVID is a big one as well because some people can recover very quickly, some can take longer. He is coming on great so we've just got to hope that he's much closer to it."
Soucek was also sidelined after a positive COVID test and Moyes offered a similar caveat on the Czech Republic captain's availability.
"Tomas came back from COVID, we are not quite sure exactly how ready he is or if he is ready so we need to assess that and see exactly where he is," he said.
Manchester United have injury worries of their own with Cristiano Ronaldo one of a number of doubts for the clash.
"Cristiano is a question mark because he has a problem with his neck," Ralph Rangnick told the Manchester United website. "He received treatment yesterday for two to three hours and we will have to wait to see how he feels today."
One man who is likely to be available is former Hammer Jesse Lingard, according to the interim boss: "Jesse resumed back for training yesterday and he will be training today [Friday] so he should be available for the game."
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