One of the biggest criticisms of International football right now has struck West Ham as a first-team player has contracted COVID-19. Here is what follows.
It is always a gamble and a bit of a nail-biting experience for West Ham supporters during the international break. There is a clear juxtaposition between wanting your players to be good enough to be selected for their nations but simultaneously not wanting them to play for fear of injury.
Manuel Lanzini’s knee injury in Argentina’s preparation for the World Cup comes to mind for West Ham supporters, but this instance of international havoc comes in the form of Coronavirus, not injury.
Ukraine international, starter, and star Andriy Yarmolenko, as confirmed by international manager Andriy Shevchenko, has contracted COVID-19 while representing his nation over this break. The forward started in Ukraine’s 2-0 loss to Poland on the 11th, shortly thereafter receiving the diagnosis.
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This obviously means that Yarmolenko will miss out on Ukraine’s next match against Germany today (November 14th), but what can West Ham supporters expect now as Yarmolenko heads into rest, recovery and isolation until he is cleared to return to East London?
Well, judging by the three previous cases at the club with Issa Diop, Josh Cullen and manager David Moyes all contracting the virus, it’ll be a lengthy period of time until the attacker is back in training.
Diop received his positive test result on September 22nd, the say of the EFL Cup match against Hull, and wasn’t back on the bench until October 18th where he didn’t feature in the 3-3 draw with Spurs.
Yarmolenko was confirmed as having COVID-19 on November 13th so his return (judging by the Diop scale) could be November 26th which would be mid-week prior to West Ham’s match against Aston Villa. He would be expected to retain his bench position as the Hammers are thin for forward options.
In the interim, nothing much will change for West Ham and Moyes as Yarmolenko hasn’t played more than 38 Premier League minutes in an individual Premier League match this season. Mark Noble, who was out injured, will likely take his place on the bench leaving Said Benrahma, Manuel Lanzini, and possibly a less-than-fit Michail Antonio on the bench to face Sheffield United.
Best wishes and get well soon to Andriy Yarmolenko. Every West Ham supporter knows exactly how dangerous he can be with his left-foot, making magic from nothing. The sooner he’s back with the team the better!