Sam Byram arrived from Leeds a few years ago with much fan-fair. He was supposed to be the yin on the right to Aaron Cresswell yang. However, after a season and a half with inconsistent performances and injuries, West Ham really do not know what lad can bring to the table long-term. The season started brightly, but that ended quickly with Byram tearing his hamstring against Middlesbrough in late September.
After a long spell on the sidelines, he dipped in and out of the side, and also picked up a red card suspension. The 16/17 season was eventful! But not for all the right reasons.
Current Team Placement
Barring injuries, you really have to think Byram is second choice behind Pablo Zabaleta (you can assume the team would not have made the splashy singing just for Pablo to sit on the bench). That behind said, even though Byram is currently the team’s second right back, you can probably bet on Byram featuring in most cup games with some appearances in the League to spell Zabaleta (especially on those pesky Saturday/Sunday-Tuesday/Wednesday fixtures).
There is also a real possibility he comes off the bench to provide pace down the right side towards the end of the game. As he has shown in the past, Byram can take a run and play a nice one-two with Antonio. He’s not first choice, but absolutely has an opportunity to make an impact this year.
Goals for this Season
It is hard to say this is a “make or break” season for Byram, especially with his age (23) and injury history. But, that being said, consistency and being injury free have to be his goals for the year. One of the more maddening things about Bryam has been his lack of consistency and, when he starts to show some flashes, picking up an injury (this is not his fault, to be sure). Going into the season penciled in as a replacement should give him some fire, while also taking off a bit of the pressure to perform at 110%. (He should also clean up that little yellow card problem he seemed to have towards the end of the season.)
Perhaps the Davids are playing a long game. Maybe they signed Zabaleta to give Byram a chance to recover from his maladies, while picking up confidence in the early cup rounds against lower-level competition. Learning from Zabaleta, a league-winning and Champions League experienced right back will not hurt in the long run and he may very well become the player everyone was hoping he could be. Only time will tell, though, and if Byram can show growth and maturity this season in what could be limited playing time, he could force himself into the starting XI by the end of the season, with an eye to permanently keeping the job next season.