Option 2 – Arise Alese
In times like this youth must be trusted. West Ham have two highly rated young centre-backs in their Under-23 set up, Aji Alese and Jamal Baptiste – both played in the Europa League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb and impressed. Baptiste is just 18 years-old and could be deemed to young but Alese is 21, is now the time?
He’s a well respected young defender and captains the U23’s who have enjoyed a fantastic season. He has been out on loan to Accrington Stanley so has League One experience and he’s also featured for England youth sides across various age groups. Some say what’s the point of an academy if you don’t use it?
But due to the magnitude of the approaching games like a European semi-final, it’s unknown whether Moyes will trust Alese. He is left-footed and provides natural balance with the right footed Dawson. Also, at 6ft 4in he could additionally be a threat at corners which is important to the Irons and would be comfortable in the system West Ham prefer to use. f
Option 3 – Rice out the middle
Declan Rice started as a centre-back, it feels a long time ago now as he’s one of the worlds best midfielders. There remains the possibility that he could drop into the middle of defence to fill the void left behind by the three injuries.
However, West Ham would suffer greatly in midfield without his presence. He is so important to the team and is simply irreplaceable, taking him out the engine room would damage overall performance. There’s also the issue of who then takes his place in a reshuffle? Mark Noble is too old now so it would probably be Manuel Lanzini then Said Benrahma would start in the number 10 role. Lanzini can play deeper and sometimes should be used there more when West Ham need creativity from deep to break down a low block.
But, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Frankfurt to come the Hammers need their main man in the middle to win the ball back and drive forward.