With an hour to kick off the atmosphere is a little confused as many Hammers fans are wondering with the return of the injury curse that progress to the group stages of the Europa League could prove a mixed blessing. Already the 3 games in a week cycle is stretching resources and with Man City waiting at the weekend, the Hammers cant afford to go into that game tired.
Astra meanwhile were buoyed by their late equaliser in Romania. The Europa League should provide a good testing ground for all of our emerging talent but instead is proving an unwanted burden upon an injury-prone first team squad.
With the team sheets in, it's clear that Superslav feels that group participation is desirable and he has underpinned that by selecting the following starting XI : Randolph, Byram, Reid, Ogbonna, Burke, Nordtveit, Tore, Obiang, Kouyate, Antonio, Calleri. (Subs: Adrian, Collins, Oxford, Browne, Diangana, Valencia, Fletcher).
It'll be interesting to see how the midfield lines out with Nordtveit, Obiang and Kouyate. With various rumours about Pedro Obiang's future, tonight is a massive chance for him to shine.
Up front, fans will be hoping that Jonathan Calleri puts his miss at the weekend behind him and gets his hammers haul up and running. The replenished Michail Antonio will be looking to further emphasise his offensive ability with another outing up front. It's a big start also for Reece Burke, who may play at RB with Sam Byram switching to LB (or vica versa!).
Let the games begin! SuperSlav says that the Hammers won't sit back and try to defend the away goal - with our recent defensive mishaps that sounds like a wise stance!