West Ham must stop AVFC gem who has a “wand of a left foot” amid major injury blow – opinion
David Moyes must stop Conor Hourihane from unleashing his “wand of a left foot” when West Ham United host Aston Villa on Monday night following an injury for Ross Barkley.
What’s the word?
According to the Express and Star, Villa are likely to be without Barkley for their next two Premier League fixtures after the Chelsea loanee sustained a hamstring injury in the first minute of Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Barkley underwent scans to assess the extent of the blow, which revealed the damage is not too serious, but will miss his side’s trip to east London and the following home clash with Newcastle United.
Dean Smith will be hoping Barkley can recover in time for next month’s Midlands Derby with Wolverhampton Wanderers, having seen the £19.35m-rated man net once and provide an assist in six Premier League appearances since his summer move.
One of Hourihane or Bertrand Traore is expected to replace Barkley in the side to face West Ham, after each came off the bench to earn minutes in defeat to Brighton with Traore replacing Barkley and Hourihane given his first action since September.
Must contain Hourihane
Hourihane was the man to make way when Villa finalised their capture of Barkley this summer, but Smith is noted to still regard the Republic of Ireland international as an important player.
Yet Hourihane had been left an unused substitute in Villa’s last five top-flight fixtures before his 75th-minute introduction against Brighton, despite netting once and assisting once in a 3-0 win over Fulham in September.
No doubt Hourihane will have been frustrated to have been benched after a strong start to the campaign, and will be looking to use Barkley’s hamstring injury as his chance to shine after going through a similar situation last season.
Smith noted last November how Hourihane “wasn’t happy” when left out of the side, but saw the best possible response when the 29-year-old struck a sublime effort to seal victory over Newcastle before teeing up Anwar El Ghazi to score.
Hourihane’s strike saw Toon boss Steve Bruce wax lyrical over his former player, and reveal why Moyes will need to contain him should the 24-cap ace be the one Smith favours on Monday.
“Conor, with two pieces of magic, which we all know he is capable of, has scored a great goal and then played in a great ball for the other,” Bruce noted, via quotes by FourFourTwo. “With Conor’s wand of a left foot he ends up scoring one and makes another.”
Hourihane would end the 2019/20 campaign with three goals and five assists in 27 Premier League appearances, and currently boasts more key balls (5) than Traore (2) and with the Birmingham-based outfit’s fourth-most per game (1.7).
Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek will no doubt have their work cut out to keep Hourihane quiet and allow for the centre-halves to contain the Villan’s free-scoring Ollie Watkins and tailismanic midfielder Jack Grealish.
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Source: Football – Football Fan Cast