Slaven Bilic finds novel solution to West Ham’s right-back problems
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is toying with a novel idea for the visit of Leicester – playing a right-back at right-back.
The Hammers’ shortage in the position has long been a source of frustration among fans, with Bilic utilising winger Michail Antonio or midfielders Havard Nordtveit and – most recently – Cheikhou Kouyate, as makeshift full-backs.
But an injury to captain Mark Noble means Kouyate will be needed in midfield and could pave the way for Sam Byram to make a rare start against the Premier League champions.
“He is definitely one of the options,” said Bilic.
“Sam did play this season, and got injured. It was a pretty bad injury, then he came back and played a few games, then Kouyate played in that position.
“Now he’s back to fitness, he came on last week and made a goal, so yeah, maybe. Yes, it would be nice to have a right-back at right-back. It would be very nice.”
Bilic is plotting further changes after back-to-back defeats as West Ham plan to get back on track against the resurgent Foxes.
Ayew is in line for a start while Robert Snodgrass, another substitute at Dean Court, could also be drafted in.
Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare has dismissed any fears the Foxes will get caught up in their Champions League euphoria.
They go to West Ham after being handed a tie with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals following Tuesday’s win over Sevilla.
Shakespeare extended his 100 per cent record as a manager as the Premier League champions edged through 3-2 on aggregate after their 2-0 home win and they are the last English club left in the competition.
But the Foxes are three points above the relegation zone and yet to win away in the league this season – a run stretching back 11 months – with Shakespeare confident they will shake off their European joy.
“I haven’t found it a challenge so far and I can only go on what I have experienced. The talk straight after the game was to improve the away record,” he said.
“I haven’t banned talk of the Champions League but after the game the focus, what I wanted, has been on West Ham.
“We’re in a professional industry and the players know it’s my job and the job of the staff to make sure the focus is there. To a man that’s what they have concentrated on.
“It’s not hard – there are good memories and nice memories but that’s what they are. The sole aim is the next Premier League game, as it’s been mentioned we have a poor away record.
“We want to move away from (the relegation zone) because it is tight down there but we can’t look too far ahead. We’re solely focused on each game as it comes. The players are aware of the record, it’s very hard to put your finger on why (we have struggled away).”
Shakespeare also vowed to continue to play on the front foot, a policy which caught Sevilla cold as they failed to deal with Leicester’s intensity.
He said: “That’s what we hope. That is what is expected. We are at our best when we do that.
“You saw results in terms of the performances against Liverpool and Hull, and now Seville. The players think that’s when they are at their best so that’s what we’ll encourage them to do.”
Nampalys Mendy is doubtful with a knee injury despite returning to training this week.