By James Wood

13th Apr, 2021 | 1:10pm

Angelo Ogbonna in line to return for West Ham against Newcastle

West Ham could be handed a boost ahead of the Newcastle clash as ExWHUemployee claims Angelo Ogbonna could be in contention to feature at St James’ Park.

The 32-year-old has been absent from the XI since the February 9th FA Cup defeat to Manchester United. He hobbled off with an ankle injury during the first half. His return to the side will be massive for the remainder of our run in and push for Europe.

Speaking on the West Ham Way podcast, Ex claimed Ogbonna will be one of four men set to return to the squad for the trip to Newcastle on Saturday.

“Hopefully, Ogbonna, Yarmolenko, Randolph and Lanzini will all be in contention for a place against Newcastle,” said Ex.

“It might come a little too early for Yarmolenko, but certainly Ogbonna and Lanzini were very close to being on the bench (on Sunday), it gives us options when they’re available definitely, so that will help.”

Perfect timing

As the injury floodgates have flung wide open, it’s great to hear that our star defender is about ready to return. We’re already missing Declan Rice and Michail Antonio, and could now be without Aaron Cresswell and Mark Noble for this weekend, too.

Cresswell went off holding his hamstring early in the second half against Leicester, replaced by Fabien Balbuena. If Ogbonna is ready, he could slot straight back into the XI in place of Cresswell.

Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s great to hear Lanzini, Randolph and Yarmolenko are all nearing a return. But none of them plays as significant a role as Ogbonna. Without him in the side, we’ve struggled to keep it tight at the back.

Overall, in the 9 games he’s missed we’ve let in 14 goals. We’ve only kept clean sheets at home to Leeds and bottom-placed Sheffield United. Thankfully, we’ve been scoring at the other end. But we need to sharpen up if we’re to finish in the top four.

It must be frustrating for Moyes, not to be able to select his best XI due to so many injuries. In fairness, we’ve gone the majority of the season with a strong squad, limited to one or two absentees.

We’re still in the mix, though. Credit has to go to the coaching staff, they’ve installed confidence and belief into this West Ham side that are so used to fighting relegation.

In other West Ham news, Garth Crooks has selected this Hammers ace in his BBC team of the week.