Back from injury a month early, Payet ready to return for West Ham


West Ham United have won just once in their last nine Premier League games (six draws), and seen the Hammers name tumble out of the top four of the league table, out of the top-six and all the way down to eighth.

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Coincidentally — or, perhaps not so — Slaven Bilic‘s side has been without ace midfielder Dimitri Payet (ankle) for the last seven games (one win, five draws). Payet’s arrival in the PL earlier in the fall saw the 28-year-old Frenchman become on of the signings of the early season, when he racked up five goals and three assists in his first nine league games.

In seven games without Payet, West Ham have scored just five goals (three 0-0 draws). In the 12 games prior, which included victories over Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, they scored 23. It’s pretty clear why West Ham were so devastated on Nov. 9, when they learned the could be without Payet for up to three months, which means they must be overjoyed that he’s already back in training and in contention to start at home against Liverpool on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, at 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra), according to his manager.

Bilic, on Payet’s rapid recovery and his availability for Saturday — quotes from the Guardian:

“Is he in contention to start? Yes. He is back, he’s been training with us for a couple of days and depending on how he does today I’m expecting him to be in the squad and available for the game.

“We will see how much he is going to participate in the game, but he is back and it’s a great boost for us.”

Midfielder Victor Moses and defender Winston Reid (hamstring injuries) are both also back in full training, according to Bilic. With defender Aaron Cresswell (groin) and forward Diafra Sakho (thigh) the only other injury list inclusions, the Hammers are nearly back to being the full-strength side they were when they won six of their first 10 league games (two draws) this season.