West Ham captain Mark Noble missed the Hammers 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town due to injury – but he was reportedly never in contention to play anyway.
According to the Claret and Hugh website, manager Slaven Bilic decided to drop the Englishman for Monday evening’s clash at London Stadium, preferring Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate as his central midfield pairing.
Any lingering doubts over his decision were then nullified when Noble suffered a ligament injury on Friday and pulled out of training.
The report claims he was due to appear as a substitute before the problem surfaced.
Bilic’s decision to drop his captain will have pleased some; former West Ham man Leroy Rosenior called for him to remove the midfielder from the starting line-up early in the season.
That came as the Hammers made a dreadful start to their campaign, losing on the road to Manchester United, Southampton and Newcastle United.
Their return to London produced a positive result with a deserved win over high-flying Huddersfield, thanks to goals in the second half from Obiang and Andre Ayew.
West Ham – now up to 18th in the table – are back in action when they travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
If Noble is fully fit, it means Bilic has a tough decision to make as having now picked up some points, he may be reluctant to make wholesale changes to a winning team.
However, with Marko Arnautovic available again after selection, the Croat has several options at his disposal for the trip to the Hawthorns while he waits for news on his captain’s fitness.
However, as Noble has already been substituted twice this season already, it would be no surprise if Bilic either leaves him on the bench or does not risk him in the matchday squad at all.
The 30-year-old came through the Hammers’ academy and has made more than 300 appearances for the club, but even his status as captain and a fan favourite will not guarantee him an immediate return to action.