It has been no secret that left back isn’t West Ham’s strongest position.
The player to fill the position for the game where neither played was the teenager Ben Johnson.
The 19-year-old was thrown into the darkest depths of the deep end, as he was tasked with making his debut against Manchester City.
To the surprise of many, he swum for the 63 minutes he was on the pitch for the 1-0 loss, before being pulled out and replaced by the far more experienced Pablo Zabaleta.
Coming directly up against a player of Riyad Mahrez’s calibre will have been a daunting prospect for many, but Johnson dealt with it well, as he was only dribbled past once.
As impressive as he was, it would be naïve to claim that one match means someone should be the starter – as the current left backs’ inconsistencies show.
However, the youngster has set a fine foundation and given a good account of himself in the biggest game of his life so far, which can only be a positive.
He also has experience of playing senior opposition outside of his solitary first team appearance, having featured in the Checkatrade Trophy for the U23s last term.
What has potentially given him the chance to make the step up into the first team, is that despite there being frailties at left-back, it is not deemed as a priority position in the transfer window, according to ExWHUEmployee.
Johnson could be handed game time in the cups to prove himself, so with this in mind, if he is to impress and the current situation was to remain unchanged, the teenager could be given the opportunity to make more Premier League appearances.
He also has versatility on his side – being able to play as a full back on either side – so will likely be acting as third choice for left and right back at the moment, meaning an injury in either could see him close to action already.
It is far from a formality, but with Pellegrini showing a willingness to use young players, there is a chance Johnson could break into the West Ham first team fold this campaign.