West Ham United return to European action this evening, with FCSB making the trip from Romania to London for the opening Europa Conference League fixture of the 2022/23 campaign.
However, while David Moyes’ side will undoubtedly be the heavy favourites for the match, the 59-year-old does have several injury concerns ahead of the game – with full-backs Ben Johnson and Aaron Cresswell both being unavailable for selection due to knocks, while Tomas Soucek, Craig Dawson and Gianluca Scamacca are all facing a race against time to be deemed fit to feature.
As such, just how many changes will Moyes look to make from the starting XI that lost 2-1 to Chelsea last time out? Here’s how we think West Ham could line up against their Romanian opponents…
While it is true that last season’s Liga I runners-up should not be taken lightly, we nevertheless predict that Moyes will make a considerable five changes to his starting XI that narrowly lost out at Stamford Bridge last weekend.
The first of these comes between the sticks, with cup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola coming in for Lukasz Fabianski, while there is also one change in defence, with Moyes switching to four at the back and Thilo Kehrer making way for Angelo Ogbonna.
In the middle of the park, with the 59-year-old revealing in his pre-match comments that Soucek was struggling with a knock to his foot, £12m summer signing Flynn Downes – who Russell Martin dubbed “incredible” – is handed his Conference League debut alongside Declan Rice.
In the Hammers’ attacking trio, both Jarrod Bowen and Lucas Paqueta retain their starting berths on the right wing and in attacking midfield respectively, while Maxwel Cornet is also given a shot from the off, with the £67k-per-week Pablo Fornals – who has had a particularly quiet start to the 2022/23 campaign with just one league goal – dropping to the bench.
In attack, despite having only returned to training this week after recovering from illness, we predict Moyes will start Gianluca Scamacca ahead of Michail Antonio through the middle – as the Italian scored in both legs of the 6-1 aggregate victory over Viborg FF in the play-off round – and is desperately in need of first-team minutes in order to gain match fitness.