Tuesday, July 18

Daily WHUFC News - 18th July 2017

Hammers draw with Sturm Graz II in Austria

image: http://www.whufc.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/GettyImages-816307908.jpg

Pedro Obiang

West Ham United 0-0 SK Sturm Graz II
Pre-season match, Thermenstadion, Bad Waltersdorf, Austria, Monday 17 July 2017

West Ham United kicked off their pre-season schedule with a 0-0 draw against Sturm Graz II in Bad Waltersdorf on Monday evening.

Despite creating several chances in both halves, Slaven Bilic's men couldn't find a breakthrough up against young and spirited opponents.

More pleasing for the Hammers boss, however, was the fact that 22 of his players came through the encounter unscathed and made a positive step forward in their fitness programme during the eleven-day training camp out in Austria.

Bilic went with a blend of youth and experience in each half, as he gave every fit member of his squad a 45-minute run-out.

Debutant Pablo Zabaleta started at right-back in a 4-5-1 formation, with Ashley Fletcher up top supported by Andre Ayew from the left and Robert Snodgrass wide on the right.

image: http://www.whufc.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Zaba_726_0.jpg

Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta appeared in a Claret and Blue shirt for the first time

The youthful Austrians, who play in the third tier Regionalliga Mitte, began brightly and had an effort chalked off for offside in the eighth minute, before the Hammers began to find their rhythm and dictate the tempo, with Zabaleta and Arthur Masuaku getting forward at every opportunity.

In the 15th minute, young midfielder Nathan Holland found an opening on the right but saw his clipped effort deflected just wide by a defender. Ten minutes later, Holland went close again, as his left-foot strike from the edge of the box was parried by goalkeeper Tobias Schutzenauer and Ayew could only divert the rebound back into his arms.

On the half-hour mark, Sturm broke away on the counter-attack and created their best chance of the half, but winger Romano Schmid saw his low effort saved by the legs of Adrian.

As the half wore on, Hammers' experience began to tell and Sturm had Schutzenauer to thank for keeping the score goalless, as the keeper made two excellent point-blank stops from Ayew in the space of four minutes.

The final chance of the half came when Holland was fouled on the edge of the box, but skipper Mark Noble saw his curling free-kick deflected over the bar.

image: http://www.whufc.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/GettyImages-816307926.jpg

Nathan Holland
Nathan Holland was one of two West Ham United first-team debutants at the Thermenstadion

The interval saw the full eleven changes to Bilic's team, with Aaron Cresswell taking over the captain's armband from Noble, Spanish striker Toni Martinez taking over from Fletcher at centre forward, and youngsters Declan Rice, Josh Cullen and Moses Makasi getting a taste of the action.

Lanzini began to make his class show almost immediately, pulling the strings in midfield alongside Edimilson Fernandes, and the Argentinian almost opened the scoring five minutes into the second half with a well-struck volley that was blocked by Schutzenauer, who was replaced shortly after by substitute keeper Christopher Giuliani.

Cullen – back from his season-long loan at Bradford City last year – also looked bright and had a low shot deflected wide in the 64th minute, before the Austrians hit on the break again minutes later and fired just past Darren Randolph's post.

With 20 minutes remaining, Sofiane Feghouli saw a decent opening come to nothing when he headed Fernandes' blocked shot on to the roof of the net, and seven minutes later Lanzini was presented with a free-kick opportunity 25 yards out but curled his effort over.

As the game edged towards its closing stages, only the Hammers looked like finding a breakthrough, but with Giuliani making a couple of brave interventions, Sturm Graz II managed to hold on for a share of the spoils.

For Bilic, the first step on a road that leads to Old Trafford on 13 August was navigated safely and provided the ideal physical test at this stage.

Next up for the Hammers is an all-English clash with Championship club Fulham on Thursday evening, with coverage from the Thermenstadion starting at 5.55pm BST on Premier Sports. Fans can also follow the game on Twitter at @westhamutd.

West Ham United: Adrian (Randolph 46), Zabaleta (Byram 46), Collins (Rice 46), Burke (Ogbonna 46), Masuaku (Cresswell 46), Noble (c) (Cullen 46), Obiang (Makasi 46), Holland (Fernandes 46), Snodgrass (Lanzini 46), Ayew (Feghouli (46), Fletcher (Martinez 46)

Academy stars Trott and Quina praised for Euro U19 exploits

Academy Director Terry Westley has heaped praise on Nathan Trott and Domingos Quina after the West Ham United pair reached the UEFA European U19 Championship final. Goalkeeper Trott helped the Young Lions to lift the trophy after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Quina's Portugal in Georgia on Saturday evening.
While the Bermuda-born stopper was an unused substitute throughout the tournament, Westley said Trott's inclusion just months after switching his international allegiance to England. "Nathan was very late in terms of getting clearance to play, but they really like him and trust him so he went straight into their squad," Westley observed. "It was very difficult for him to go in and play matches straight away because he didn't play in the qualifiers because he hadn't been cleared to play. But England rate him so highly that he went straight into the European finals and they won it! "It's a great experience for him and it should have given him the appetite to go on and become the number one goalkeeper in that team. He is highly, highly thought of."

Trott converted from an outfield player to goalkeeper just four years ago and Westley says he therefore possesses many of the characteristics demanded of modern glovemen – namely, he is outstanding with the ball at his feet. "When you look at what goalkeepers are expected to do, his feet are as good as a midfield player's and his passing ability off both feet scares me sometimes as a coach," Westley continued. "He can just clip the ball out to the full-back or drop it into the striker. "So he has an awful lot of attributes and that's what England have seen in him, so they've put him in the squad immediately and he'll have gained massively from that experience over the last four weeks."

Quina, meanwhile, started all five tournament matches for Portugal, narrowly failing to add the Euro U19 crown to the U17 winner's medal he collected a year ago.
Still just 17, the attacker enjoyed an outstanding debut season for West Ham, impressing for the U23s, making his first-team debut in the UEFA Europa League and being named on the bench for 12 Premier League fixtures. "Dom is playing a year above his age, as he is an U18, but Portugal have skipped him a year," Westley observed. "To have won the U17s and then lose narrowly in the U19s final the following year shows what his country think of him."

The pair will now enjoy a well-deserved week off before returning for pre-season training next Monday, when they will join either the first-team squad for the trip to Germany and Iceland, or the U23 group travelling to Slovakia for two pre-season matches.

George Dobson leaves club for Sparta Rotterdam

West Ham United can confirm that midfielder George Dobson has joined Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam for an undisclosed fee. Dobson, a boyhood Hammers fan, joined the club from Arsenal in July 2015 and quickly became an integral part of Terry Westley's U21 squad. He played a key role as the team won the Premier League Cup in May 2016. The 19-year-old joined Sky Bet League One side Walsall at the start of last season and played 26 times for the Saddlers, scoring once in the 2-1 defeat to Fleetwood Town in December. After the completion of his loan spell, he returned to east London for the closing stages of the U23's season, helping the PL2 side clinch promotion after victory over Newcastle United in the Play-Off Final. Everyone at the Club would like to thank George for his service to West Ham and wish him the very best for the future.

U18s impress in draw at Bishop's Stortford

A youthful West Ham United U18s side produced a brilliant performance to draw 1-1 away at Southern League Premier Division team Bishop's Stortford. A squad largely comprising of trialists and schoolboys competed from start to finish against the senior Essex side and U18s assistant boss Mark Phillips thought his team could have easily won the match. "When you look at the make up of our squad, we did very well to control the game and have the lion's share of possession," he said. "It was great to have this sort of test in our first game back. Hopefully on Wednesday (in the second friendly against Charlton Athletic U18s), we'll have a few more players back so we can see how the other boys are looking."

The Hammers had the better of the first half and seized on their dominance at the beginning of the second 45. One of their trialists did brilliantly to lob the Blues keeper from the edge of the box to give the visitors the advantage. However, the hosts got their equaliser late in the second half when Darren Foxley converted Jordan Palmer's centre. The opening match of the U18s pre-season schedule provided a unique test for the youngsters and they are back in action on Wednesday away to Charlton Athletic U18s (2pm kick-off).

West Ham U18s: Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Caiger, Mingi, Dalipi, Rosa, Hamilton (c), Constantinou, E.Longelo, Adarkwa.
Subs: Chesters, Forson.
Goals: Trialist.

West Ham Ladies kick-off pre-season with six-goal success

West Ham United Ladies began their preparations for the new FA Women's Premier League Southern Division campaign with a 6-0 pre-season win over Crawley Wasps. New signings Molly Peters and Amber Stobbs were both on target, while Kelly Wealthall scored twice and Charlotte Long, Chloe Burr and Paige Anderson-James also found the net. Manager Greg de Carnys praised his players for their approach to their first pre-season match and their ruthlessness at both ends of the pitch. "It's obviously great to score six goals from five different goalscorers and to keep a clean sheet too, but the most pleasing thing was the performance," he told whufc.com. "We started the game really well, our movement and decision-making was all at a high intensity and we saw lots of the things we want to see in the way we played. There was some excellent possession play today and some very good finishes so that's really pleasing. "Crawley proved a good test at this stage of the season and we're really grateful to them. There's still plenty for us to do and I know the players and the staff can't wait to get back on the training pitch this week."

The Ladies started the game with high intensity to go 3-0 up within 15 minutes on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Beckton. Peters slotted home the opener before former Women's Super League player Stobbs showed her class by weaving between two defenders and lobbing the goalkeeper from 25 yards. Long then celebrated her return to football with an unstoppable header from a teasing corner. In control, the Ladies comfortably dominated possession against their London and South East Women's Regional Football League opponents before De Carnys made a number of substitutions at half-time. Wealthall, who joins the first-team squad this season after coming through the Ladies Academy pathway, bagged herself a brace and showed her tenaciousness in front of goal. Then, as full-time approached, Anderson-James proved to be too strong for the Crawley Wasps defenders as she twisted her way through with close footwork before firing into the bottom corner. There was still time for Whitney Locke to hit the crossbar, but a six-goal victory will undoubtedly boost morale and confidence ahead of Sunday's second pre-season fixture at Fulham Ladies on Sunday 23 July at 2.30pm. However, De Carnys is not going to allow his players to get carried away with their opening-weekend win. "I'm very happy with the progress we've made so far, but it's still very early days," he observed. "We've been training hard and we're hoping to gradually and progressively improve in every sense as we go through pre-season and into the season. It's not about hitting the players with a hard block of intense training in pre-season straight off the back of the summer break. "A progressive approach to improvement will mean players can adapt but don't break down because of a sudden increase in load."

Hammers on Tour: Day 7 in Austria

Catching up on daily life with Slaven Bilic's squad during their pre-season training camp in Austria…

Working body and mind!

With double training sessions the order of the day again on both Friday and Saturday, there were understandably some tired limbs at the team hotel on Saturday evening. However, that didn't prevent a number of players from exercising their minds with an impromptu quiz night alongside members of the backroom staff after their evening meal. Some impressive knowledge was on display – with Andy Carroll pulling some particularly memorable answers out of the bag – but in the end it was a victory for experience as a team containing Head of Medical Services Gary Lewin and Cub Doctor Ian Beasley triumphed, with Mark Noble, Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell's side finishing a close second.

Pablo proving his class

He may have only been in training with the Hammers for just over a week, but new arrival Pablo Zabaleta has already shown his class both on and off the pitch. The 32-year-old Argentine right-back, despite being a double Premier League winner and 58-times capped full international, has displayed his hunger and quality every day on the training field, while offering advice and guidance to the young players within the squad and making every effort to get to know team-mates and staff. "Pablo walks in the dressing-room and gets respect straight away," said skipper Mark Noble. "To have someone of that quality and experience with us, and to see how he works, is fantastic."

Double bogey for Woods

Following their sudden-death play-off victory on the golf course on Thursday, James Collins and Winston Reid, didn't waste any time in accepting the challenge of a rematch from their defeated opponents, goalkeeper coach Chris Woods and physiotherapist Fraser Young. With a clear afternoon following Sunday morning's training work-out, the clubs and buggies were out again and this time the defensive pairing didn't need the 19th hole – winning by 4&3 to make it two straight victories. Although former England stopper Woods wasn't shy in revealing that a certain New Zealand international, playing off an 18 handicap, had found the green on a par four with his tee shot…!

Bilic shows support for Cilic

Sunday afternoon also gave Slaven Bilic the opportunity to take a well-deserved rest, but sport was still on the mind of the Hammers boss as he sat down with his coaching assistants Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic and Miljenko Rak to cheer on their fellow Croatian Marin Cilic in his Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. Cilic, only the second Croatian after Goran Ivanisevic to reach the final at SW19, sadly went down in straight sets to the ice-cool Swiss legend and Assistant Manager Jurcevic admitted afterwards: "There was a lot of pressure on Cilic and, unfortunately, it seemed that he allowed the occasion to get to him."

Rice rocks the mic!

The days of Crazy Gang-style initiation ceremonies for young players breaking into a club's senior squad may be a thing of the past, but youthful Hammers don't get off completely scot-free. Young central defender Declan Rice, who made his first team debut on the final day of last season up at Burnley, was on the receiving end on Sunday evening, when ordered to stand on a chair in front of the entire squad and staff at dinner and belt out a song of his choice – which he did with admirable courage…if not talent! To spare his blushes, whufc.com did plan to keep Declan's 'performance' of R Kelly's The World's Greatest under wraps. However, in today's world of instant social media coverage, it didn't take long before several of his more senior team-mates ensured the 18-year-old was given his moment in the spotlight!

Pablo Zabaleta: I'm settling in well

Pablo Zabaleta already feels like a part of the West Ham United family – less than two weeks after training with his new teammates for the first time. Argentina international Zabaleta, who put pen-to-paper with the Hammers this summer after ending a nine-year spell with Manchester City, has enjoyed the settling in period with his new side as they prepare for the new campaign with an intensive training camp in Austria. As they get set for their first pre-season fixture, against Sturm Graz II on Monday evening, Zabaleta revealed how much he feels at home.

He explained: "I'm so happy and pleased to have joined West Ham. The ten days we've been in training have been fantastic – they are great lads, the manager, his staff and all the people working at the Club seem like nice people. "Even if it has only been ten days, it seems like I have been training with the lads for a year to be honest. There is a really good atmosphere in the dressing room. "I had been playing in the Premier League for nine years with Manchester City so I know it really well. It is the greatest competition in the world for sure and you always want to keep playing in competitions like that. "So when I left City, staying in the Premier League was the first option for me and West Ham were the quickest to express an interest in me. Always as a player you want to feel wanted and that was the main key why I came to West Ham. "Our commitment as players is to give 100% on the pitch and off it. I do really believe that this a massive club that is looking to do well. I can't wait for the start of the season."

Brady lands new role
Filed: Monday, 17th July 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham vice chair Karren Brady has taken on a new role - as non-executive chairman of Taveta Investments, the parent company of Arcadia Group. Tavesta, which owns the multinational retailing company is owned by Tina Green, the wife of disgraced Sir Philip Green. The Tottenham supporter was panned for extracting hundreds of millions of pounds from BHS before it was sold for just £1 in 2015 leaving the Pension Protection Scheme with an enormous bill.
West Ham's vice chair effectively replaces Lord Grabiner at Taveta, who is stepping down with immediate effect. Brady, who was pictured on Green's private yacht with her husband recently said: "The Arcadia business employs over 24,000 staff, has an annual turnover in excess of £2bn and has some of the most iconic names on the British high street. "It is a privilege to have been invited to chair the board and I look forward to working with my colleagues as we concentrate on driving the Arcadia brands forward on their global expansion."

However news of Brady's appointment hasn't been universally welcomed; MP Frank Field, who has been highly critical of Green and his handling of the BHS pension scheme retorted: "It's not surprising that Sir Philip Green has to use the house of Lords as a recruitment agency for his companies. "Baroness Brady was paid to be up to her eyeballs in the dreadful shenanigans that led to the closure of BHS, 11,000 job losses and practically every BHS pensioner suffering a cut in their pension entitlement."

The Arcadia group includes recognised high street brands such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Burton.

Trio back in training
Filed: Monday, 17th July 2017
By: Staff Writer

Winston Reid, Michail Antonio and Diafra Sakho have all returned to training - although Andy Carroll remains sidelined through injury.

The trio were all involved in individual training sessions at the club's Bad Waltersdorf training complex this morning, a matter of hours ahead of United's first pre-season test against Sturm Graz.

And Sakho - who featured in just two matches last season - even stopped behind after the rest of the squad had retreated to their quarters to undergo extra training, as he bids to return to full fitness ahead of the 2017/18 season opener at Manchester United next month.

Carroll, who has flown to Austria with the squad but is yet to take part in any kind of training was present at the complex along with the rest of the team, where he happily signed autographs for the small group of watching supporters.

Meanwhile Angelo Ogbonna, who missed the latter half of last season through injury is also back in full training, where he looked just fine alongside his tgeam mates.

Sturm Graz vs West Ham kicks off at 5.30pm BST and is being broadcast live on Premier Sports. The match is also being streamed live on YouTube.

Joe Hart passes medical ahead of West Ham loan switch
By Sky Sports News HQ
Last Updated: 17/07/17 6:22pm

Joe Hart has passed his medical ahead of his loan move from Manchester City to West Ham, according to Sky sources. Hart is set to join on a season-long loan, although it is understood West Ham will have an option to buy the England international next summer. The 30-year-old spent last season on loan with Serie A side Torino, having been deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City following the arrival of manager Pep Guardiola. City signed Claudio Bravo as their presumed No 1 'keeper following Guardiola's arrival and this summer they have added Brazilian Ederson to their goalkeeping ranks. Sky Sports News HQ reported last week that the Hammers were hoping to finalise the deal for Hart within the next few days, while Hammers boss Slaven Bilic said recently that he was expecting imminent reinforcements. "What we want is to bring in the quality that is going to improve our first XI," said Bilic. "We have (former Manchester City defender) Pablo Zabaleta and I am really expecting to add a couple more soon."

Sturm Graz II 0-0 West Ham: Hammers open pre-season with draw
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 17/07/17 8:17pm

West Ham started their pre-season campaign with a goalless draw against Sturm Graz II in Austria on Monday evening. Pablo Zabaleta made his Hammers debut at right-back as Slaven Bilic gave every fit member of his squad a 45-minute run-out. Sturm Graz II almost went ahead when the third-tier side had a goal disallowed for offside after eight minutes. That close call sparked West Ham into life and young midfielder Nathan Holland went close, while goalkeeper Tobias Schutzenhaur twice denied Andre Ayew. The hosts' best chance fell to Romano Schmid but Adrian made a smart save to preserve his clean sheet. Bilic made a number of changes at the break - with Aaron Cresswell taking over the captain's armband - but the Premier League side could not find a breakthrough. Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini looked bright but their Austrian opponents held firm to earn a draw. West Ham face Sky Bet Championship side Fulham on Thursday evening as they continue their preparations for the new season.

Simon Jordan says Joe Hart is a poor goalkeeper
Subhankar Mondal

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart looks set to join West Ham United in the summer transfer window, but former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan does not seem to rate him Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart seems to be on the verge of joining West Ham United in the summer transfer window. According to BBC Sport, the England international goalkeeper has completed his medical at the Hammers and will join the London club on a season-long loan deal. The 30-year-old goalkeeper, who spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan at Italian club Torino, does not seem to be in the plans of City manager Pep Guardiola. Hart is a hugely experienced goalkeeper who knows the Premier League inside out. The Englishman played an important role in the Citizens winning the league titles in 2012 and 2014. Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, though, does not seem to be a fan of the England international, and has said that Hart is a "poor" goalkeeper.
"I think Joe Hart is a poor goalkeeper," said Jordan on The Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on talkSPORT on Monday morning (broadcast from 6am, July 17, 2017). "I think in the World Cup of 2010 he did nothing but pick the ball up from the back of the net, and I am not surprised that he finds himself descending down the pyramid of clubs. "I certainly don't think he is England's number one anymore, but this doesn't mean he isn't a decent goalkeeper. I just don't think he is at the top of the pantheon of goalkeepers." West Ham also need to sign a top-quality striker in the summer transfer window in order to have a successful 2017-18 campaign. The Hammers need a proven goalscorer who can find the net 15 to 20 times in the Premier League.


West Ham have seemingly put all their eggs in the Javier Hernandez basket, much like they did last summer with Carlos Bacca. The Hammers are willing to meet the player's £13m release clause but wage demands in excess of £140,000-a-week are holding up the deal for the time being. If the club were to bring in the former Manchester United striker he could become the club's top earner by some distance, but West Ham are aware that they need to pay the top players top dollar to bring them to the London Stadium. The Mirror have noted that the Hammers have been presented with another stumbling block in their pursuit of Hernandez as Tottenham are monitoring the situation ahead of a bid. Tottenham are underwhelmed by Vincent Janssen and would like to swap him out for a more reliable backup to Harry Kane and Hernandez, a proven goalscorer at this level, is seen as a potential signing. West Ham have already missed out on Henry Onyekuru and Olivier Giroud this summer, and if they fail to bring in Hernandez that would be another crushing blow to the club's summer transfer activity.

Di Canio says West Ham need a new midfielder and striker as "everybody expected better"
The Hammers legend has identified the positions where he feels they need to strengthen
Football London
16:00, 17 JUL 2017

Paolo Di Canio says West Ham need to sign a midfielder as well as a striker this summer as they look to improve on last seasons disappointing 11th place finish in the Premier League. The Hammers legend was speaking after representing Italy during the successful Star Sixes tournament at the O2 Arena and was also asked about the loan signing of Joe Hart, which is expected to be completed on Monday. Di Canio hailed the signing of Hart to shore up the defence but also admitted he fells the club needs one or two more signings to get back up to the required level. football.london understands the Hammers co-chairman David Sullivan is meeting with the agent of Mexican striker Javier Hernandez on Tuesday to thrash out a possible deal for the Bayer Leverkusen front man and the club has also been linked with a loan switch for Jack Wilshere. The Italian hero said: "Hart is a top goalkeeper but we need something more in the middle of the field and up front. I am sure that the club will do everything to make the fans happy."
Di Canio said he felt the club struggled to adapt to the London Stadium last season but has backed them to be much improved for the forthcoming campaign.
He said: "Everybody expected West Ham to do better. It was the first time apart from Upton Park, first time away from there and it was a shock, even if you play in a big and beautiful stadium. "But I think this year, with one more year experience they will adjust something, Bilic changed it on the pitch at the end of last season. "I think the future should be green with West Ham, I hope in my heart."


West Ham pride themselves on their academy and they've recently agreed terms with one of their brightest young prospects. All Nigeria Soccer are reporting that talented defender Ajibola Alese has signed a deal to become a first-year scholar in the West Ham academy and is on course to be offered professional terms further down the line. Alese is a regular at U16 level but did make seven appearances at U18 last season which illustrates how highly the club think of him Capped at England U16 level coming from a Nigerian family, Alese has been reportedly a target for the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City but recent infringements regarding youth player transfers from the Premier League duo ended a potential move for Alese. The centre-back can be offered a professional deal after he turns 17 and has the potential to enjoy a great career at the club. West Ham have a number of talented centre-backs coming through at the moment and sooner or later they will be handed an opportunity.

West Ham youngsters Martinez, Rice, Cullen & Burke have got their chance - they need to take it
They are the brightest talents in the pool and now they get their chance in Austria
Football London
14:30, 17 JUL 2017

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has taken seven Hammers youngsters on the pre-season tour to Austria and on Monday night, they will finally get their chance to prove themselves. Toni Martinez, Declan Rice, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke are four of them who could be in with a shout of starting the first friendly against Sturm Graz II in Bad Waltersdorf tonight (Monday) as Bilic assess his squad. West Ham and the moniker "The Academy of Football" has not been ringing true for the past few years now and with Bilic blocking loan deals to have a look at these lads, they need to prove to him he was right to do so. If they don't, their first team chance could be gone as quickly as it has come around. The cynical bunch among West Ham fans will think this is nothing other than a PR exercise from the club to involve some of their talented youngsters in the pre-season tour before loaning them out. But, hold on a minute.

A teenager got just two minutes of action for West Ham and the Premier League last season and that was Rice, who got all those minutes on the final day at Burnley in a 2-1 win. Cullen has had two highly successful loan spells away at Bradford, Martinez has rattled in goals for the U23s, Burke has always impressed in claret and blue when given the chance and Rice is extremely highly-rated within the set up, leading the U23s to glory last season. The manager wants to take a look at them, alongside the likes of Domingos Quina as well when he is back from international duty, to see if they can really cut the mustard in the first team and live up to their reputations. It's a chance the young lads simply have to take if they are to have any hope of breaking through in the future. Burke even revealed himself that the boss has put the brakes on a loan deal to Bolton to have a closer look at him. We have all seen those tweets from David Gold, who suggested it'll be very hard for a teenager to break into the first team but now that Bilic seems to have relaxed his stance a little, there could be a chance. The Croat has always favoured sending younger players out on loan to get experience - like he has done with Reece Oxford this summer to Borussia Monchengladbach - but why has he now changed his mind?
Shifting out Jonathan Calleri, Gokhan Tore, Havard Nordtveit, Alvaro Arbeloa and maybe Sofiane Feghouli too could leave the squad a bit threadbare. If Michail Antonio, Angelo Ogbonna, Andy Carrolll and Diafra Sakho and Pedro Obiang are not 100 per cent for the first game of the season at Old Trafford, the kids will be in the frame. The young lads don't need us to tell them what to do over the next month while they are away with the first team. They know they need to buck up and knuckle down, get down to work and impress the boss. If they do, they might get an unexpected chance at the start of the Premier League season. It might seem far-fetched given how little anyone got a look in last season but with a smaller squad, the opportunity is there.


West Ham United are on the verge of agreeing a £145,000-a-week deal with Mexican striker Javier Hernandez as the Hammers prepare to beat Premier League rivals Chelsea to his signature, according to a report on the Express. The Hammers have been eager to add a big name striker to their front line in this summer's transfer window as Slaven Bilic knows that his side struggled in front of goal last season. Last week it looked like a move for Hernandez would break down due to his wage demands but the London club are set to offer the Mexican what he desires to lure him to the London Stadium. The Bayer Leverkusen striker has a £13m buyout clause in his current contract with the German Bundesliga club and is interested in a return to the Premier League. The ex-Manchester United forward has a killer finishing instinct inside the box which is what Bilic is looking for in the transfer market. Hernandez managed to get his name on the scoresheet 11 times in the Bundesliga last season and also registered three assists. The Hammers have spoken to Hernandez' representatives and a deal is close to being agreed between both parties. The promise of a starting spot seems to have convinced Hernandez to join West Ham after Chelsea had shown interest but couldn't guarantee him a starting position. The 29-year-old striker is set to become West Ham's highest paid player.

West Ham vs Sturm Graz II - what can we expect from the Hammers first pre-season friendly
West Ham kick off their pre-season fixtures against a second-string Graz side in Austria this evening
Football London
12:00, 17 JUL 2017

With just under a month until the start of the Premier League season, West Ham finally kick off their first pre-season fixture ahead of the 2017/18 campaign in Austria this evening. The Hammers have been in Austria for nearly a week and have been undergoing gruelling double sessions to get them back into the swing of things as the pre-season gets a bit busier.
Slaven Bilic's side will take on Fulham in three days time in their second friendly of the tour before heading off to Germany, where football.london will be joining them. But, with the first game on the horizon in Bad Waltersdorf this evening, what can we expect to see tonight? Here's a few things to keep an eye on.

The youngsters

Toni Martinez, Declan Rice, Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Nathan Holland and Moses Makasi are all in the matchday squad. They are coming up against a second string Sturm Graz side so expect the youngsters to get some good minutes under their belts. While it may not demonstrate much about what the lads can do against Premier League teams, it will give us a chance to see how they have coped with a first team environment, with a first team mentality, with Slaven Bilic watching on from the sidelines. Martinez will likely get serous minutes up front as it's only him and Ashley Fletcher as the recognised strikers. Could we see 45 minutes for both?

The formation

Pre-season is a time to tinker and get things right for the start of the season but if Slaven Bilic plays with the three centre halves formation he deployed at the end of the last campaign, it'll be a big giveaway. Winston Reid will miss the game so Angelo Ogbonna will likely step in, although we could see Declan Rice get the start back there as well. It means one up top, which will likely be 45 minutes for Fletcher and the other 45 for Martinez. If Bilic plays 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1, both strikers will probably play and Andre Ayew and Manuel Lanzini get 45 minutes each playing off them.

Zabaleta's influence

Pablo Zabaleta is an experienced campaigner who has won Premier League titles and doesn't take any nonsense. Alongside Mark Noble, the new signing will be the vocal forefront of the team and he demands absolutely 100% from his team and from the off, we expect Zabaleta to be key at right back. Other players, particularly the younger ones, will no doubt have taken influence from the Argentine defender and it'll be interesting to see if it has made a difference.

Have the double sessions paid off?
New physio Gary Lewin will be watching closely as the players take to the pitch for the first time in this season after pulling gruelling double training sessions on a few of the days of camp so far. The players were given an afternoon off on Sunday but it's been very intense before that and Lewin will be keeping a close eye on any injuries, knocks and fitness levels. Mainly after the game, Lewin will certainly be analysing how the Hammers have coped and whether they might need to tone down the double sessions or keep ploughing on.

Joe Hart is a bonus for West Ham but without a new striker the summer will not be a success
The keeper is all set to join on a season-long loan but the striking department still needs strengthening
Football London
09:28, 17 JUL 2017UPDATED09:30, 17 JUL 2017

West Ham and Joe Hart have had a deal agreed since last Friday but it has taken until Monday for the England number one to have the West Ham part of his medical. You hope that David Sullivan hasn't spent too long on this deal and neglecting others because while Hart is a great signing for the club, his position was not a priority this summer.
West Ham have been interested in Hart for a while but they weren't expecting to get him, with Man City asking for £25m but as soon as the 30-year-old was available for loan, the Hammers made their move and have got their man. But, West Ham still don't have a striker and with a little less than a month to go until the Premier League season kicks off, some supporters still aren't convinced. It's been the usual merry-go-round of any European striker who has scored more than ten goals last season being linked with a move to east London but as of yet, the day the Hammers kick off their pre-season fixtures, there isn't a new one. Toni Martinez and Ashley Fletcher are the only strikers on the first team tour in Austria right now that are anywhere near able to play, you can maybe put Andre Ayew in there at a stretch. David Gold has made a promise this morning that signings will be made between now and the end of the transfer window.

David Gold ✔ @davidgold
Good mornings Mike. What we all need right now is patience. New signings will be made. dg https://twitter.com/joejimbobsdad/status/886684863708975105
8:02 AM - 17 Jul 2017
33 33 Retweets 182 182 likes

A move for Marko Arnautovic looks like it is going to drag on unless the Hammers stump up some more cash and they need to break the bank to get Javier Hernandez who has a lot of interest in him. Olivier Giroud hasn't come off, Henry Onyekuru went elsewhere, Cedric Bakambu signed a new deal at Villarreal, Martin Brathwaite went to Middlesbrough, Kelechi Iheanacho fell through, the list goes on.



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