By support

20th Oct, 2016 | 2:22pm

Have West Ham dropped starting XI hint v Sunderland with programme cover?

By Will Butcher

West Ham could have potentially dropped a starting line-up hint after placing bit-part midfielder Pedro Obiang on the cover of their match programme.

The Hammers are favourites to pick up just their third win of the Premier league season on Saturday, as they play host to David Moyes’ struggling Sunderland.

West Ham’s official Twitter account revealed that the combative Spanish midfielder was on the cover of Saturday’s match programme, despite featuring in just three of the Hammers’ eight Premier League games this season.

Obiang is currently struggling to break his way into Slaven Bilic’s starting 11 with the likes of captain Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate and Havard Nordtveit all vying for a place in the centre of midfield.

However, in the East London outfit’s last two Premier League encounters, Obiang has started alongside Noble and Kouyate.

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West Ham’s number 14 is now in his second season with Bilic’s side, after moving to London for £4.3million from Italian outfit Sampdoria last summer.

The 24-year-old has since made 38 appearances in the claret and blue of West Ham, with only 22 of those coming from the start.

With the Hammers keeping a clean sheet against Alan Pardew’s in-form Crystal Palace outfit at Selhurst Park on Saturday during their 1-0 triumph, Obiang is expected to feature again to shore up Bilic’s midfield.

In other West Ham team news, this African international could be about to make his Hammers return after Bilic praised his club’s medical staff.