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West Ham full-back springs to defence of his striker team-mate

PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 09 April 2019

West Ham United's Ryan Fredericks looks on

West Ham United's Ryan Fredericks looks on

PA Archive/PA Images

Arnautovic is a vital player and a top team-mate says Fredericks

West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic (right) and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic (right) and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.

West Ham defender Ryan Fredericks has sprung to the defence of striker Marko Arnautovic after some stinging criticism over the last few weeks.

The Austria international has been the target of the boo-boys at the London Stadium recently after his transfer request and then some indifferent form.

But his team-mate insists that he is an excellent member of the squad.

“He has taken a lot of stick, sometimes unfairly,” said Fredericks after Monday’s 2-0 defeat against Chelsea.

West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic controls the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic controls the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.

“People might think he is lazy, but that is not the case at all. He works his nuts off in training, while sometimes he is a lone figure up front and it can be hard to get into the game.”

After playing the first half at Stamford Bridge on the wing, ‘Arnie’ moved into the middle after the break and suddenly he looked his old self.

He put huge pressure on the Blues defence and twice came close to scoring.

“He is a great player,” continued Fredericks. “Sometimes people expect him to get the ball, beat five players and put the ball into the top corner, but that is not always going to be the case – though it would be nice.

“Hopefully the situation is behind us now. He is a great laugh in the changing room and is one of our important senior pros.”

Arnautovic was one of the scorers when West Ham beat Manchester United 3-1 at the London Stadium back in September.

Felipe Anderson and an own goal by Victor Lindelof gave them the win that day, though their hopes of completing the double are slim ones.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has rejuvenated the club since replacing Jose Mourinho and though they have stumbled in recent games, they are still looking for a top-four place.

They have the distraction of a two-legged Champions League clash with Barcelona and hopefully that will work in West Ham’s favour.

Samir Nasri is a doubt after feeling his calf in the warm-up at Stamford Bridge, while Issa Diop will vie with Angelo Ogbonna for a place alongside Fabian Balbuena in defence.

The odds are stacked against the Hammers on Saturday, but with little to play for they can at least show attacking intent.

Kick-off is at 5.30pm.

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