West Ham United have landed an injury boost ahead of hosting Chelsea on Saturday with Darren Randolph featuring for the Under 23s.
Randolph was joined by fellow first-teamers Ryan Fredericks, Fabian Balbuena and Manuel Lanzini against the junior Toffees side, as the Irons moved four points clear of Southampton at the bottom of the Premier League 2 table.
Do West Ham need a Randolph upgrade?
Yes, he’s not good enough
No, he’s a solid back-up
Randolph was called into action early on with the goalkeeper forced to clear danger inside the second minute, before making a superb reflex save to keep out a corner kick heading straight into the back of the net.
Thierry Small and Rhys Hughes kept Randolph busy throughout the first-half, while making himself big to keep out Josh Bowler after Balbuena and Frederik Alves were lured out of position by Nathan Broadhead.
Randolph was clearly delighted to get back onto the pitch for the first time since facing Manchester City on February 27, when he aggravated a thigh injury that had kept the 33-year-old out of action for five games.
“Good to be back in action for the Under 23s today and get 90 mins under the belt after a frustrating couple of months,” he noted on Instagram. “Even sweeter with a win in the sunshine in east London.”
Randolph may now be made available for Moyes when West Ham host Chelsea on Saturday, marking the goalkeeper’s first inclusion in a Premier League squad in seven games after making only his second appearance of the season at Manchester City.
Moyes has been forced to hand academy product Nathan Trott a seat on the bench alongside veteran shot-stopper David Martin in more recent weeks, with both named among the back-ups in each game that Randolph has missed.
That’s despite Trott being linked with a summer move away from the London Stadium, with Claret & Hugh suggesting the Irons do not feel the 22-year-old is ready to replace Randolph or Lukasz Fabianski as a regular option.
West Ham are expected to source a Championship loan for the former England U21 international, in the hope that a spell in the second-tier can see him make the necessary step up to secure a first-team future in east London.
Given the doubt over Trott’s ability, Moyes will no doubt be glad to have Randolph on the road to recovery and having his go-to number two available in the not-too-distant future in case Fabianski is unavailable for any reason.