With the first of three games in six days coming up, West Ham United will find that resources are likely to be tested to the full.
Starting with a home game against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday at the London Stadium, the Hammers will then follow up with away matches against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday and Shrewsbury Town on Sunday.
David Moyes already looks like being without Michail Antonio for the West Brom game; and whether or Mark Noble’s hamstring injury heals in time for Tuesday remains to be seen.
Only David, Mark himself and the medical team will know that.
However, with such a tight schedule on the cards it’s a matter of managing who turns out against who; and if neither Mark nor Michail make it for the West Brom match, then there’s always the Spurs game on Thursday to aim for.
And if not, then the third and final game of the opening week of the new year against Shrewsbury Town in the F.A. Cup at the New Meadow will surely be a possibility.
The odds will be on one of the two making the third match; but if either are able to turn out sooner then David Moyes will be a lot happier than he will have been after the Bournemouth game a week ago.
It’s the time of the year when the strength in depth of any premiership squad will be openly scrutinised.
As Gary Lewin points out on the official West Ham United site, normally injuries sustained in any one match have at least a few days to recover. But with the first two games this week coming at 48 hour intervals, the standard recovery time won’t apply.
Any injuries picked up against West Bromwich won’t be subject to that two or three day working guide to beginning the recovery process. Any injuries sustained on Tuesday will technically still be in the acute stage when David is looking to pick a team to face Tottenham.
The acute period for most injuries of a soft-tissue nature - i.e. sprains and strains - normally lasts anything between 48 and 72 hours before the medical people are able to make a firm prognosis as to when a return to play may be likely.
The problem with the games coming in such quick succession means that it could be virtually impossible to estimate recovery times the day after the injury is sustained.
If the injuries are just simple knocks and bruises then often a day’s rest will do the trick; but the chances of returning to play from anything more complicated than that can be difficult to predict.
For anyone carrying longer term injuries and conditions, or for whom two games in a week might be a challenge in itself, then playing three games in six days will take some going.
That’s not to say it can’t be done of course; but the key to doing that will lie in limiting the time on the pitch for anyone who falls into this category.
Those players who have been carrying knocks for the last few weeks and struggling through the games are likely to have a testing time with the Hammers imminent schedule.
The same could be said for players who have recently returned to the team after being out for some time; and unfortunately for David, opposing managers aren’t going to take two minutes to work out who might be the potential doubts in his starting line-up.
As we said a few weeks ago, London’s a small place when it comes to secrecy in football. Everyone knows everyone else’s business and that can be another obstacle to overcome.
By keeping his own counsel David obviously recognises that in terms of privacy the London scene can be a bit different to that of the north.
It’s going to take all of David’s management skills - plus a strong reliance on the medical team - if by this time next week we’re going to be celebrating a successful start to 2018.