West Ham United are one positive result away from the group stages of the UEFA Europa League, but face another tough test as they take on Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu in the second-leg of their play-off.
Frustrating night on the continent
West Ham headed to the continent last Thursday, lacking in confidence after their opening 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. Mark Noble gave them a bright start at the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici, scoring from the spot just before the break.
Michail Antonio had an excellent chance to put the tie to bed near the end, before an equaliser Denis Alibec denied them the win and secured a 1-1 draw for the hosts.
Confident of the win
Confidence has certainly increased in Slaven Bilic's side since the firs-leg last week, with the 1-0 win over Bournemouth, and the Croatian said he was confident of making it into the group stages.
Bilic told whufc.com in his pre-match press conference: “We were not totally happy with our performance in the first leg but we still came away with a 1-1 draw and if we want to qualify we have to beat Astra at home." He added, "We should be confident and I expect us to win.”
The Croatian continued: "We should enter this game with that state of mind knowing it is one game and everything is possible. I expect us to build our confidence and to play a good game and beat Astra.”
West Ham's injury problems have been well documented, but Bilic faces another selection headache ahead of their game with Manchester City on Sunday.
Bilic has said that he will pick his strongest side, with Dimitri Payet being a possible starter on Thursday. But Bilic admitted that Payet and Manuel Lanzini are more likely to be saved for the clash at the Etihad Stadium.
However in terms of injuries, Andy Carroll has become the latest to add to the injury list, along with Aaron Cresswell, Andre Ayew and Sofiane Feghouli.
Bilic admitted in his pre-match press conference: "We played on Sunday so we will wait and see who is going to play on Thursday." He explained, "We will put out the strongest possible side because for us the game is top priority and we want to qualify."
The Croatian concluded: "We are just one game from the group stages and we're not thinking about the City game or resting players. But we have to see who will be available.”
West Ham United will take on Astra Giurgiu in the second-leg of their Europa League play-off at the London Stadium on Thursday, August 25 with kick-off at 7:45pm BST.