Friday 15 December 2017

Carl Jenkinson backs fringe crew to do the job for West Ham

Carl Jenkinson of West Ham
Carl Jenkinson of West Ham

Carl Jenkinson expects West Ham's fringe players to show they have enough about them to keep the club's lurching Europa League campaign on track.

The Hammers have taken a much-changed squad to face Astra Giurgiu tomorrow, despite being held to a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Upton Park last week. Defeat would mean the end of the road, while a win would put Slaven Bilic's side into the play-off round and two legs away from reaching the group stage.

Bilic watched his 10 men let a two-goal lead slip to the Romanian outfit in the third qualifying round first leg and was later sent to the stands himself but, with a tricky away trip to Arsenal opening their Premier League campaign on Sunday, he opted against bringing a full-strength squad.

None of the 11 who started the first leg have travelled, with only skipper Kevin Nolan, new recruit Manuel Lanzini and Jenkinson likely to feature on a regular basis in the league this year.

Jenkinson is involved as he cannot play against parent club Arsenal at the weekend and the England international has backed the Hammers to win through - even if they are missing a host of names.

"We have got a lot of quality throughout our squad, it speaks for itself," said Jenkinson, who has returned to Upton Park for a second season-long loan spell.

"The boss has said that he has had to leave a few players at home with one eye on Sunday's game but the players who came are top players, otherwise you don't play for West Ham in the Premier League.

"We will have a good team out, we have more than enough ability in this team to win the game."

Bilic and his players are likely to come in for criticism from West Ham supporters if they fall at this hurdle - but Jenkinson wants a proper European campaign everyone at the club can enjoy. "Playing in Europe is special for me," he added.

"You test yourself against teams from other countries and it is always a good experience.

"We would love to go through and that is the aim for everyone. For the fans, they would love in the last season at the stadium, for us to be in Europe - it is a big thing for everyone."

Bilic admits he would have preferred to be in a stronger position following the first leg but knows the physical demands on his squad at such an embryonic stage of the season is something he needs to manage.

He said: "We have come here with a good team that I have a strong belief in, but it is difficult to play here, then fly back for Arsenal. The situation for most of the clubs who are playing the qualification rounds is the same."

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