Mark Noble was involved in his fair share of West Ham United battles during their 3-2 Premier League win over Wolverhampton Wanderers last night.
Noble started only his fourth game of the season in place of the injured Declan Rice.
Irons fans may have feared the worst following the 22-year-old’s omission because of a knee problem, such is Rice’s importance to David Moyes’ side.
The injury is a massive blow for West Ham and England, who will hope Rice recovers in time for this summer’s European Championship.
Noble knows best
In hindsight, fans shouldn’t have worried about Noble after he put on a performance typical of his club captain status.
According to WhoScored.com, Noble made four interceptions against Wolves, more than any other player on the pitch.
He also completed three tackles, a game high for the Hammers.
Combine that with a 90 per cent passing accuracy and Noble can be proud of his return to the first team.
That type of display may be required more frequently from the English midfielder with the extent of Rice’s absence not yet clear.
Champions League chasers
What will have pleased Noble and Moyes most was the fact West Ham moved into fourth thanks to their latest three points.
A Jesse Lingard-inspired victory meant the Londoners leapfrogged Chelsea, who were thrashed at home by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
With just eight domestic games remaining, the Irons have a seriously strong chance of achieving their Champions League dream.
Their fantasy looks even more realistic when you take the fixture list into account.
The Hammers have to play Newcastle United, Burnley, Brighton and Hove Albion, West Brom and Southampton before the end of May.
All sit in the bottom half of the table and are matches Moyes’ men will be expected to win.
Gaining a European ticket would be a suitable send-off for Noble, who is set to retire after 18 years of incredible service for West Ham at the end of next season.
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