West Ham facing Europa League defensive crisis after Issa Diop ruled out | West Ham United

West Ham’s hopes of winning the Europa League have suffered a setback with David Moyes facing a defensive crisis after Issa Diop suffered an ankle injury that could rule him out for the rest of the season.

Diop picked up a knock during the final stages of last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley and initial tests have indicated that the defender could be out for eight weeks with ligament damage, leaving Craig Dawson as West Ham’s only fit centre-back. With Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma already unavailable for the season that leaves Moyes with a major selection headache before his side’s Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

West Ham, who are seventh in the Premier League, will need to be creative as they attempt to win their first European semi-final since 1976. One solution could be to move Ben Johnson, who can play in both full-back positions, alongside Dawson. Another would be to promote Jamal Baptiste or Aji Alese from the academy. Baptiste, 18, and Alese, 21, started when West Ham lost to Dinamo Zagreb in December.

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Declan Rice can also play as a centre-back, though Moyes is reluctant to move him out of central midfield. Another option would be to switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a back three.

West Ham are clinging on to hope that Diop will overcome the problem before the season is over. However questions will be asked about their failure to bring in extra cover at centre-back during the January transfer window. Ogbonna has been out since November with a knee injury and Zouma, who was out with a hamstring injury during Christmas, was sidelined with an ankle injury this month.

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