PREVIEW by Harvey Byrne
Dimitri Payet could be set to return to the West Ham starting line-up against Chelsea on Monday.
The attacking midfielder was given an extended break following his Euro 2016 campaign, but Slaven Bilic revealed on Thursday that the Frenchman could be in line for a surprise start against Chelsea.
The 29-year-old missed out on the Hammers Europa League qualifying matches against Slovenian outfit NK Domzale and he was restricted to a 74th minute substitute appearance in the east London club’s final pre-season match against Juventus.
However, Payet is so pivotal to the way that West Ham play that he might make a early comeback against one of the Hammers’ toughest opponents this season.
Elsewhere, Antonio is expected to keep the right-back position, while Byram will occupy the left-back position with Arthur Masuaku not expected to be ready for the Premier League or Chelsea yet.
Although, new signing Andre Ayew joined on the same day as Masuaku, the Ghanaian has a season of Premier League experience under his belt and it won’t take him as long to adapt to the Hammers squad.
Angelo Ogbonna will be competing for the spot next to Winston Reid in defence with youngster Reece Oxford, but Bilic may value experience over youth against Antonio Conte’s side.
First team stars Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini have both suffered long-term injuries this summer and the pair definitely won’t feature in the club’s opening few matches.
Bilic will be keen to manage a successful season in charge of the Hammers, as they enter a historic first season at their new Olympic Stadium.
In other West Ham team news, Andre Ayew has claimed that his friend Dimitri Payet will have an even better second season at the club.