West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is confident that his side is ready to start the season on Thursday as they enter the Europa League qualifiers.
The Hammers will travel to Slovenia to take on NK Domzale in the third round qualification first leg. This is the second season in a row that West Ham will start off their season ahead of every other Premier League team due to Europa League qualifiers. Bilic said it’s not ideal as some players, including star Dimitri Payet, played in Euro 2016 and was given extra time off.
“We are happy with our preparations,” Bilic told West Ham’s official website. “We have done everything that we wanted to do, but still we have to make a balance in our preparations to compromise some things because the competitive games don’t start on 15 August, they start on Thursday.
“It’s not ideal but I’m really pleased with the way we’ve trained. We are still expecting a few players to come back, those who have been playing in the European Championships.
“If we continue to work hard like this, with dedication and humility, we can expect good things.”
West Ham were knocked out at this stage of the Europa League qualifiers last season, falling 4-3 on aggregate to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu, after entering the qualifiers in the first round. Bilic led the Hammers to a 7th place finish in the Premier League last season.