By Saikat Mandal

4th Nov, 2021 | 7:32am

David Moyes blown away by West Ham defender Ben Johnson

David Moyes has showered heaps of praise on young West Ham defender Ben Johnson ahead of their Europa League clash on Thursday.

West Ham will travel to Belgium to face Genk in the Europa League clash. In the previous fixture, the Hammers won 3-0 against them.

The Hammers have won all three of their Europa League games so far. They could become the first English team to keep four clean sheets in Europe should they manage to stop Genk from scoring tomorrow.

Johnson has been brilliant this season for the Hammers, and his performances have been praised by his teammates and pundits.

The 21-year-old has kept his place in the side in the absence of Vladimir Coufal, and he did a remarkable job against Manchester City in the EFL Cup clash.

“It’s been very good, I’m really pleased for Ben. He’s a bit of utility player for us, he’s been here for a while,” said Moyes, as quoted by Football.London

“He’s a really important player for us. In the squad and the group he’s really important. Quite often we’ve brought him on and used him in different roles and he’s had a chance to have some games under his belt, he’s not let us down and scored a good goal in midweek.

“It’s good because it’s competition for Vladimir, and I’ve got Ryan Fredericks as well. I think at the moment Ben has done really, really well and stepped in at a period where we didn’t have either of the other two right backs available. He’s done as well as anybody.”

Spot on

Johnson is versatile, and Moyes rightly calls him a “utility” player.

The problem of having utility players in the team is that they tend to perform a lot of roles, and in the long run, fail to nail down any particular spot.

It’s good to see that Moyes has made it very clear that he wants Johnson to continue as a right-back, and only when someone is not available, he can play as a left-back as well.

His rapid emergence will push Vladimir Coufal to deliver his best for the club. In fact, Coufal himself is relishing the competition.

Johnson stepped up at a time when West Ham didn’t have either of their two full-backs available, and the youngster did fill the void with great aplomb.

In other West Ham news, the Hammers’ trip to Genk could be Vladimir Coufal’s chance to reassert his authority on the right-back position.