West Ham manager David Moyes has explained his plan for the busy fixture list this winter.
The Irons are fighting on more fronts than usual as they compete in the Europa League. They are currently top of Group H after picking up three wins from as many games.
West Ham have also reached the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup. They will face London rivals Tottenham in the last eight on December 22.
Moyes is having to use pretty much all of the players available to him to ensure success and prevent player burn-out. Youngster Ben Johnson has filled in at right-back amid Vladimir Coufal’s groin injury.
He opened the scoring against Aston Villa last time out as West Ham eased to a 4-1 league victory. Johnson is expected to feature in Thursday’s game against Genk.
At the pre-match press conference, Moyes said: “I’m really pleased for Ben because he has been a bit of utility player for us, but he is a really important player. Quite often we’ve brought him on in different roles and he’s not let us down.
“It’s competition for Vladimir and I’ve got Ryan Fredericks as well. He’s stepped in really well in a period when I didn’t haver either of the other two right-backs available to me.”
On how he will deal with the busy winter schedule, Moyes continued: “It’s worked for us in the previous games, we’ve mixed the players around a little bit. I’d like to get it done tomorrow if we can but I’ll never take that for granted.
“Genk will give us a tough game, we know that. I’m trying to get us through, and once we get through this we go through another tough period in December. Our schedule means it would be wrong to keep playing the same players all the time.
“Thankfully at the minute all the players who have come in have done an excellent job.”
When asked for an injury update, Moyes added: “We have a couple of knocks and niggles behind the scenes that we’ll have to manage.
“Nothing serious but one or two who might not make it tomorrow.”
Moyes: West Ham stars have been ‘fabulous’
The Scot also praised his players for their fantastic start to the campaign. They sit fourth in the Premier League after ten matches, three points ahead of fifth-placed Man Utd.
“I have to say after ten games it’s as good as I’ve felt, but it’s how we feel after 38 games that matters. The players have been fabulous though, and for most of last season too. We’ve had a level of consistency.”
Moyes will reach 1000 games as a manager against Genk. “Personally, it’s a big day,” he said. “When you start you rarely think you’d get to 1000 games. It shows you have a longevity and consistency in the game and I’m proud to get there.”
After the trip to Genk, the Irons face Liverpool in the Prem on Sunday afternoon.