Since the ACL injury last week that forced Manuel Lanzini to miss the World Cup in Russia, West Ham United’s World Cup involvement looks like becoming a damage limitation exercise.
In Chicharito and Cheikhou Kouyate, the Hammers still have two of the players that Manuel Pellegrini has inherited involved in Russia 2018; but following the injury to Manuel Lanzini, the new coach will be keeping an even closer eye on the matches throughout the competition.
Neither look to have an easy start. Chicharito’s Mexico side will face Germany on Sunday; while Cheikhou Kouyate’s Senegal take on Poland next Tuesday.
But it will be the worry over whether both players can escape injury in the next few weeks that will concern Manuel Pellegrini as the tournament unfolds.
As a player who gets himself thoroughly involved in the play, it’s not surprising that Chicharito had injuries last season; firstly to the hamstring muscles and latterly to his knee.
He picked up a hamstring strain playing for Mexico against Belgium last November which sidelined him for several weeks and forced him to miss several important games during the early period when David Moyes came in to take charge at the club.
He did recover from this and returned to the side; but Manuel Pellegrini might be more concerned over the knee injury that Chicharito picked up towards the end of last season.
This, as we remember, forced him to miss game time against Leicester City and Manchester United.
Although the popular Mexican returned to the bench against Everton in the final match of the season, he wasn’t used; and to be fair there has been nothing from the Mexican camp in the period leading up to this World Cup to indicate that the injury hasn’t fully cleared up.
But Chicharito is such a determined little character that he would probably play in Russia anyway; and he’s made it perfectly clear that he is intent on having a good World Cup with Mexico.
Likewise, it seems to have been one thing after another for Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.
Cheikhou closed off West Ham United’s previous league campaign under Slaven Bilić by having wrist surgery to address a long-term problem and then quickly sustained a knee injury at the start of 2017 - 2018.
Once the wrist and knee issues had been resolved, Cheikhou returned to the team; but like most players who have had a wrist operation, he could be seen thereafter wearing a support strapping for training and matches.
Like the shoulder and acromio-clavicular joint (ACJ), injuries to the wrist in football are normally sustained through falling on the outstretched hand; and even at this stage a year later he’ll likely still be very wary of sustaining another injury.
Cheikhou then picked up a hamstring injury in November of last year which limited his game time once again; but hopefully he’s now over everything. He’s certainly made enough appearances in West Ham’s first team to suggest that all is well at the present time.
Michail Antonio could well have been included in the England squad had he not required hamstring surgery towards the end of the season. Michail seems to have suffered more than most in the season gone by and his limited number of appearances in West Ham’s first team will have certainly restricted his international ambitions in the short term at least.
Manuel Pellegrini will be sure to take an interest in England’s matches since London is where he’s now going to be working of course; but he’ll probably be far more interested in the games where Chicharito and Cheikhou will feature.
The new manager’s interest won’t solely be restricted to the obvious countries though; since bringing in some potential new faces will be a major factor at this this time around.
It’s highly likely that there will be players involved elsewhere in the competition who will already be on his radar; and no doubt he’ll be giving more than a passing thought to anyone who might realistically fit in to his plans for the coming season.
That’s also something that the both Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos will be thinking about; in addition to hoping that both Cheikhou Kouyate and Chicharito put on a good show in the tournament.
But perhaps more importantly, everyone concerned will be hoping that they return to East London injury-free and in good health!