The Hammers had to deviate from their usual 4-4-2 diamond formation last weekend, and they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Everton as a result.
Changing to a 3-5-2, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan and Morgan Amalfitano offered a solid central structure for the Irons, but at the expense of the creativity usually offered by Stewart Downing at the tip of the diamond. The Englishman is currently out of action following an injury suffered whilst on international duty, and he is joined on the sidelines by Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate.
Three of the usual four midfielders are out of action, and, although Noble and Amalfitano have played key roles this season, Nolan looked well off the pace upon his return to the starting XI. His first full match since losing his place in Allardyce’s plans, the 32-year-old struggled in the centre of the three-man midfield, and his lack of energy was telling as the game wore on.
Kouyate is reportedly set to be fit for this coming weekend, with the club hosting a rejuvenated Newcastle side, but with an intense run of fixtures coming up in the festive period, would it be wise for the Magpies to recall Diego Poyet from his loan with Huddersfield Town in the Championship.
Poyet made just one start for the Hammers before leaving on a short-term loan prior to the international break, and he made his first start for the Terriers on Saturday - impressing in a 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday. The youngster offers an energy and desire seemingly absent from Nolan’s play in recent months, and although he would be entering the Premier League with no prior experience, there are enough leaders in the squad to make up for Nolan’s absence.
A classy midfielder, 19-year-old Poyet would certainly allow Allardyce to continue with his attacking diamond midfield in the absence of Downing and Song, and he could fulfil either defensive or attacking roles if required.
He cannot be classed as a like-for-like replacement for any of the injured stars currently walking the sidelines at the Boleyn Ground, but Poyet was signed with the future in mind - and he would benefit from being thrown in at the deep end. Whilst his run in the first-team would likely be short, with the returns of Song and Downing usurping his starting role, the 19-year-old could just impress enough to work his way into Allardyce’s plans for the second half of the season.