West Ham star in line to return for Chelsea clash
By Alex Taylor
West Ham star Dimitri Payet could be in line for a surprise start against Chelsea in the Hammers Premier League opener on Monday.
The 29-year-old has been absent from the east London outfit for much of his team’s pre-season preparations, after his key role in France’s progress to the Euro 2016 final.
Payet was thought not to be in the running to feature against Chelsea, but manager Slaven Bilic has claimed he may now play some part in the fixture after returning from his holiday fit and motivated.
“We still have four days to go, Bilic said, as quoted by the official West Ham Twitter account. “We will see how we are going to start on Monday night. We have Plan A and Plan B. We have that already.”
“We are still waiting to see on a couple of positions who are going to start. Payet is one of the players. He came back very fit.”
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“Like every player he needs a pre-season but he came back very motivated.”
SB: "We are still waiting to see on a couple of positions who are going to start. @dimpayet17 is one of the players. He came back very fit.
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) August 11, 2016
Talisman Payet told The Sun that he will be staying at the club for the new season despite speculation that he may move away from the side this summer.
West Ham have already begun their competitive season due to their European commitments, progressing past NK Domzale 4-2 on aggregate to reach the next stage of the Europa League.
Payet did not play a game in the Hammers pre-season schedule and was handed an extended summer break following his commitments for France this summer.
Jack Sullivan, son of West Ham chief David Sullivan, explained that Payet was given a minimum of three weeks holiday before returning to training.
Payet was a key figure for West Ham last season and was a nominee for the PFA Player of the Year.
He joined West Ham from Marseille last summer for around £12.5million and was integral to the the claret and blue sides sensational season, scoring 12 goals and providing 14 assists in all competitions.
West Ham secured a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League last term and a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.
Bilic will now be aiming to improve this campaign as the club enter their first year of football at the Olympic Stadium.
In other West Ham team news, they have completed a second major move after the Olympic Stadium arrival.