By 90Min
February 19, 2019

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could welcome back four key players for Friday night's clash with Fulham, including long-term absentee Manuel Lanzini.

The 26-year-old is yet to appear in the Premier League this season, after rupturing cruciate ligaments in the warm up for Argentina's World Cup campaign last summer.

After initially fearing he could miss the entire 2018/19 season, West Ham could now be ready to welcome back the talented attacking midfielder, with football.london reporting he could even be in contention for Friday's London derby with Fulham.

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Lanzini contributed to 14 goals in all competitions last season, scoring five in his 29 appearances for the Hammers. He notched twice on the final day of the campaign as his side overcame Everton by three goals to one and has since been sorely missed in West Ham's attacking ranks.

Their injury relief doesn't stop with Lanzini's recovery, however, as Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Fabian Balbuena could all make a return to action this week.

Nasri has made just three starts since joining the Hammers in the January window, with his game time being hampered by a calf injury sustained a month ago. But, the Frenchman has made a speedy recovery, having missed just three Premier League games, and looks set to be in contention for Friday's affair.

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere has had an all too familiar injury-stricken season and has made just four league starts this term. After requiring surgery on his problematic ankle, Wilshere has missed 22 games in all competition this season and will be as eager as anyone to make a return to first team action.

Unlike Wilshere, Balbuena was heavily involved at the beginning of West Ham's campaign, starting each of their first 14 Premier League outings. After putting in some superb performances, his progress was disrupted during the hectic Christmas period as he underwent surgery on his knee, meaning he has now missed two months of football.

Pellegrini will likely handle his returning men with kid gloves and it remains to be seen how long they will feature in Friday's derby, if at all. But, with West Ham looking to reaffirm their place in the top ten, the four players will be welcomed back with open arms and could prove the difference in the closing months of the campaign.

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