West Ham United will begin their European adventure with a trip to Croatia to face champions Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
The Hammers secured a place in the Europa League, as their sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season saw them earn automatic qualification to this year’s competition.
Four games into the new top-flight campaign, David Moyes’ side remain unbeaten and head into this game off the back of a goalless draw with Southampton.
However, the east Londoners will face a stern test against Dinamo Zagreb, who were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the playoff stage by Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol.
Michael Antonio was sent off against Southampton at the weekend, but he will be eligible to play at Zagreb in the Europa League.
Winston Reid, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Predicted West Ham United lineup vs Dinamo Zagreb (3-4-2-1)
Lukasz Fabianski is West Ham’s No.1 goalkeeper and has started all four Premier League games so far. On loan from PSG, Alphonse Areola is Fabianski’s deputy and is likely to get the nod in the Europa League clash with Dinamo Zagreb.
David Moyes could revert to a back three system for the Hammers’ Europa League opener. Kurt Zouma is expected to make his debut after his move from Chelsea in the summer. Alongside Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop might start in a three-man backline.
Fit-again Arthur Masuaku is raring to go and could get the nod ahead of Aaron Cresswell at left wing-back on Thursday. Vladimir Coufal has cemented his place in the West Ham United lineup, but he could be afforded rest at Zagreb with Ryan Fredericks starting at right wing-back position.
With Manchester United set to visit the London Stadium on Sunday, Moyes will want to keep at least one of his first-choice midfielders fresh and that should see him make changes in the engine room as well.
Mark Noble could get his first start of the season and the veteran midfielder’s experience in such a big game in front of boisterous home support will come in handy. The West Ham boss may go with Tomas Soucek to partner Noble in the middle of the park and expect the duo to protect the backline.
Summer signing from CSKA Moscow, Nikola Vlasic is pushing for a start after coming on as a substitute in West Ham’s 0-0 draw with Southampton. Jarrod Bowen will aim to stretch the Zagreb backline with his pace, movement and energy and combine well with Vlasic in the final third.
Michail Antonio is in top form and will lead the Hammers’ attack in Croatia, now that he’s ruled out of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United through suspension.