David Moyes is considering starting Mark Noble and resting one of Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek when West Ham face Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, according to The Sun.
The Irons kick off their Group Stage campaign at Stadion Maksimir on Thursday evening. But the fixture falls in a frantic six-days for the east London outfit, with two meetings with Manchester United to follow in the league on Sunday and Carabao Cup next Wednesday.
Moyes wants to keep one of his starting midfielders fit and healthy for the weekend’s clash at the London Stadium. Both Rice and Soucek have played all 360 minutes of the Hammers’ top-flight efforts amid their unbeaten start. They are two of five ever-present outfielders.
Noble has served as little more than a bystander over the opening month of West Ham’s season. Moyes has left the Irons captain an unused substitute against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Southampton. With his only outing so far lasting two minutes against Leicester.
Moyes is now considering throwing Noble back into the West Ham starting line-up when they face Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday. The Hammers boss wants to enjoy a strong run in the Europa League, but is loath to overuse Soucek and Rice to compete on multiple fronts.
One of the Irons’ Premier League ever-presents is, therefore, likely to drop out in favour of Manchester United on Sunday. Moyes intends to balance his midfield options over the two fixtures. While Alex Kral could also feature after his arrival on loan from Spartak Moscow.
Kral is yet to make his West Ham debut following his Deadline Day transfer, as Moyes left him on the bench against Southampton. The Hammers boss only made two changes during Saturday’s stalemate at St Mary’s.
Should Moyes start Noble in West Ham midfield vs Dinamo Zagreb?
Moyes will not want to make wholesale changes to the West Ham line-up and start Noble unless he is confident he can make an impact against Dinamo Zagreb. The Croatian outfit will pose a test for the Irons on their first appearance in the Europa League Group Stage.
Noble has not started a competitive game since April when he opened four-in-a-row after Rice sustained lateral knee ligament damage while with the England squad. But he slotted in seamlessly to Moyes’ plans against Wolves at the start of that run.
Noble made more interceptions (4) and more ball recoveries (9) than any other West Ham player against Wolves, per Squawka. Which impressed Rice, who responded on Twitter: “No criticism please. Unbelievable tonight, my skipper”. Moyes will hope to see that Noble return if he gives the £50k-a-week veteran a first start of the season at Dinamo Zagreb.