West Ham’s Europa League adventure kicks-off against Lusitanos
West Ham United (heavily odds-on at 1/100 with Coral to win) begin their Europa League quest with a first-round qualifier against Andorran outfit Lusitanos, though Hammers fans will have to wait a little longer to see a glimpse of new manager Slaven Bilic on the bench, as the Croatian will watch this clash from afar.
Under-21 coach Terry Westley is expected to be in charge for this mid-summers match-up, meaning a host of young Hammers could be handed debuts alongside established stars.
Reece Oxford, a 16-year-old centre half by trade, is tipped to make his West Ham bow in either midfield or defence, and is an excellent 8/1 to mark his first senior start in style by striking anytime. Exciting Oxford, who has apparently attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United, could become the youngest player in Hammers history should he make the cut.
Reece Burke, an 18-year-old centre back could make an eighth appearance, while left-back Lewis Page may also be blooded if West Ham do field some of their future stars.
As for players expected to make an immediate impact, new signing Dimitri Payet was an assist machine for Marseille with 21 last term, but the France international is also capable of chipping in with goals, and is a superb 7/2 to fire home first.
This first post-Sam Allardyce season before switching to the Olympic Stadium is somewhat of a fresh start, so it will be interesting to see how the Hammers shape-up against minnows Lusitanos, despite big-names such as Enner Valencia missing.
Dangerman Diafra Sakho should start up top and is 5/4 to bag a brace or better after hitting 12 across all competitions last campaign, while Stewart Downing is 6/4 to have the final say amid rumours of a summer transfer to Sunderland.
Primera Divisio side Lusitanos finished second in the Andorran top tier last term and are 28/1 to spring a surprise victory, or a more realistic 9/1 to split the spoils. Barcelona-born Sierra Leone striker Alfi Conteh-Lacalle has racked up nine goals in 10 league games for the Andorrans, so is duly priced at 12/1 in the anytime market.
Coral’s best bet: String-puller Payet is a great punt at 7/2 to draw first blood in his first European foray for West Ham