David Moyes sprang a real surprise on Tuesday when he included José Fonte as one of the substitutes against Crystal Palace; and the question is now whether David is prepared to give him a starting spot at Brighton.
Whether José was always going to be involved against Palace or was a late replacement for Michail Antonio will be something only David and his coaching staff will know; but in a week that hasn’t been too good for the Hammers in terms of events off the field, José’s reappearance in the squad was a real plus.
With the media still making a huge meal of the injury situation, it will be interesting to see what David comes up with for the Brighton game and if there will be any more late inclusions to the squad!
With David having been quoted on Tuesday as saying that they could have done with having Michail there on the night suggests that if he hadn't been late for that team meeting then he would more than likely have had a seat on the bench at least.
The question remains as to whether another reshuffle will be the order of the day or whether the majority of the side who played on Tuesday night will once again be given the starting jerseys.
As always it’s the Friday training session that really determines the way the manager is thinking. He'll have been looking for José to come through that session unscathed before making any further decisions about him.
It’s rare nowadays for someone to play on the Saturday who hasn’t trained the day before; particularly if they’re coming back after a lengthy lay-off and have been in and out of the training sessions in the week leading up to the Saturday match.
It was great to see Mark Noble returning to the side against Palace. Mark’s injury, reported as a bruised foot initially, could so easily have kept him out of action for much longer than it did and could equally have been aggravated by someone making contact with him in a tackle or even just in general play.
Bruised bones are always so much more sensitive than other structures; and with little in the way of protection for the bones of the foot (and the shin as well) in terms of surrounding muscles, these are easily injured by direct contact mechanisms such as a kick or a stamp.
The underlying worry with injuries such as Mark’s is that the bruising can be hiding a fracture; and hairline fractures as they’re often referred to can be difficult to exclude since they are notoriously hard to see on x-rays in the early stages.
Once a week or two has passed and there is some healing tissue evident on x-ray which is highlighted by new bone formation in the affected area, the diagnosis of a bony injury involving some degree of fracture can be arrived at more easily.
It remains to be seen whether Cheikhou Kouyaté, who played on Tuesday with his head swathed in bandages, will feature at Brighton. This all depends on whether he's shown any signs of concussion in the past few days.
Dare we say it but it appears highly unlikely that either Marco Arnautović or Manuel Lanzini will be involved at Brighton, although you never know since it all depends on how much progress they’ve made in the past week with their rehab and recovery.
Winston Reid is reported to be “coming on a bit” according to David after the session on Friday, and Declan Rice - who played against Palace - hasn’t appeared to show any adverse effects so hopefully he’ll be there as well at the Amex Stadium.
David is also hopeful that Michail Antonio will be available and mentioned that although José Fonte could do with a couple of more reserve games under his belt, the manager is the first to admit that he needs all the available players he can muster at the present time.
As one of several other players not available this weekend, Pedro Obiang will continue to have treatment on his knee ligament injury; and progress on that may be a little slow at first pending the injury settling fully.
It’s often the case that injuries like these can take a week or two for the initial symptoms to settle and that’s when you find that’s there more to it than meets the eye. We hope that’s not the situation here and await further updates.
So it will more than likely be a late decision once again as to what David's starting eleven will be; with the potential for him to spring a few surprises as usual!