West Ham United are back in action against Anderlecht in the Europa Conference League this evening, with David Moyes’ side having shaken off their early season woes following an encouraging three-game winning run in all competitions.
Another triumph at the London Stadium later today would seemingly all but secure the Hammers’ place as group winners, having swept to three wins out of three in the competition thus far, including away in Belgium last week.
That 1-0 victory against the Pro League side – in which Gianluca Scamacca fired home late on – saw summer signing Flynn Downes take his chance on what was a rare outing for the 23-year-old this season, with the former Swansea City man having been something of a bystander in the Premier League thus far.
The £12m addition has made just two late cameo appearances in the top flight to date, although illustrated his quality on the European stage a week ago, with journalist Josh Bunting stating that the youngster “adds another dimension” for the Hammers as a result of his “intelligence.”
The promising midfielder had impressed against Felice Mazzu’s side having won 100% of his aerial duels and won eight of his 13 ground duels, offering an effective screen in front of the back four as he also made five tackles and two interceptions on the night.
That sparkling showing saw the 5 foot 8 machine receive an impressive 7.5 match rating, as per SofaScore, with that the joint-second highest among any of his teammates on the day, proving he is more than capable of making the step up from life in the Championship.
There had even been calls for the Englishman to feature ahead of teammate Tomas Soucek for Sunday’s meeting with newly-promoted Fulham, with The Athletic’s Roshane Thomas suggesting that the Czech Republic international’s place in the side was “at risk” as a result of Downes’ form.
As it proved, however, it was Soucek who remained alongside skipper Declan Rice for that eventual triumph over the Cottagers, albeit with the new addition having been somewhat “unlucky” to have missed out, according to 90min’s Toby Cudworth, particularly as the 6 foot 4 giant went on to underwhelm.
Tonight’s encounter then provides the boyhood Irons fan with the chance to again stake his claim for a more prominent role moving forward, with Moyes likely to find it hard to ignore the youngster should he impress, despite the Scotman’s recent call for patience.