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European success can give West Ham much-needed Premier League momentum

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ast season, playing in Europe turned out to be the highlight of West Ham’s campaign.

The Hammers defied the odds to make it all the way to the semi-finals of the Europa League and came agonisingly close to reaching the final.

It is, of course, early days this season but the value of West Ham playing in Europe – despite dropping down to the third-tier competition – is clear as they look to kickstart their campaign.

David Moyes’ side have struggled in the Premier League, winning just one of their opening six games to sit 18th in the table, but in the Europa Conference League it is a different story.

The Hammers have won all three of their matches in Europe and they will want to extend that 100 per cent record tonight when they face Danish side Silkeborg.

“It gives you a big chance to make a lot of changes as well and I think certainly these games at the moment, we’d like to give players who we want opportunities to play,” said Moyes.

“But we’re also in the process of trying to find a bit of our own form and get into the rhythm and try and be playing in a good fashion.”

Finding that rhythm about which Moyes speaks is understandably taking time given West Ham this summer signed eight players for around £170million.

Integrating those players will take time and European football gives Moyes the chance to do just that, and that is particularly the case with tonight’s game which comes off the back of West Ham having no Premier League match last weekend.

That means Moyes can go strong against Silkeborg, with summer signings Gianluca Scamacca and Lucas Paqueta two of those hoping to start.

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“We’ve probably got a stronger group of players [this season], and talking about the squad I’ve probably got a bigger choice now than I’ve probably ever had,” said Moyes.

“But also partly because we didn’t have a game at the weekend means that I could quite easily play any one of the players tomorrow night.”

The only concern tonight for Moyes will be the plastic pitch being used. Artificial surfaces have historically aggravated injuries for some players, in both football and rugby, and it is why Moyes will think carefully about bringing Aaron Cresswell and Craig Dawson straight back into the team.

“We’ll have a look at them and obviously we have to check out what is best for them regarding the surface, etc, but we’ve brought them with us and they’re both getting nearer to fitness,” said Moyes.

“Craig had had six weeks out and Cressy’s only probably had two weeks out really, so we just need to make sure that their injuries are okay, but they have done a bit of training.”

Tonight’s match against Silkeborg is one of just two games for West Ham before next week’s international break and Moyes will be keen to build up momentum.

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They face Everton on Sunday, who have made an equally slow start to this season after failing to win any of their first six League games, and victory over them would help get West Ham back on track.

There is no panic among the Hammers, though, with the squad also aware it will take time for them to gel.

“The new additions are exciting and interesting for everybody and for us to play our best game, it needs some time for us to find each other and know each other in the best way,” said defender Thilo Kehrer.

“We’re doing it in the best way possible and are working on it together with the coaching staff. I think we’re on a good way.

“The manager has to take the decisions and for us as players we have to give everything to make the decision as hard as possible for the first eleven. At the end this will only be positive for the team.”

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