West Ham United have got another season of European football ahead of them and they start the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League campaign with the visit of Serbian outfit FK TSC Bačka Topola tonight.
The Hammers have once again qualified automatically for the group stage of this competition by virtue of winning the UEFA Europa Conference League last season and will want to get back to winning ways after Manchester City put pay to their perfect start to the new Premier League fixture programme.
This game will be the beginning of a tough week for the Irons, as they have a trip to Liverpool to come on Sunday and then face Sky Bet League One side Lincoln City, as they get their Carabao Cup challenge up and running.
David Moyes’ men were last involved in this competition in 2021/22 and remarkably, only lost four games during their run to the semi-final stage. Having had a taste of winning a European trophy, hopes are high internally that they might be able to go on and repeat that success in Dublin next May.
The East Londoners have never faced Serbian opposition before so, by the time that they meet again, the hosts will know how much of a threat they pose.
The pathway to this stage for the visitors was a difficult one, as they were knocked out of UEFA Champions League qualifying. Having had previous European experience via that particular route, then the hosts could the in for a difficult game.
Moyes confirmed that Łukasz Fabiański will make his first start of the current campaign and replace Alphonse Areola in goal, while the Hammers’ boss may also include names such as Ben Johnson, Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, Thilo Kehrer, Pablo Fornals, Danny Ings and Maxwel Cornet. Konstantinos Mavropanos and Mohammed Kudus may make their full debuts for the club.
However, Edson Álvarez will have to wait to make his European debut for the Irons, as the Mexican has to serve a one-match ban which has been carried over from his Ajax days.
Tomáš Souček also spoke to the media on Wednesday and may be amongst the players to retain their places from Saturday’s match.
The match is an 8pm kick-off and live coverage will be screened by TNT Sports from 7:45pm. The referee is Filip Glova.
Fans may also be interested to know that a documentary entitled Massive, which looks back at the success in Prague last June will also be available on TNT Sports from midnight on Friday.