1. Ayew’s injury verdict
New £20million striker Andre Ayew was meant to the be the solution to West Ham’s strikers problem – but he won’t be back until Christmas. He will need a “significant rehabilitation period” after he sustained a thigh injury during the Premier League match at Chelsea.
The club’s head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke told the club’s official website : “Andre Ayew underwent a scan on Wednesday afternoon. The medical team will now assess the results with a leading consultant before drawing any conclusions.
Vandenbroucke didn’t put a time frame on the recovery but the co-chairman’s son Jack Sullivan tweeted that it could be four months.
2. Thursday’s match essentials
West Ham take on Astra Giurgiu in Romania on Thursday night (August 18) at the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici with the kick-off at 7.15pm. The Romanians beat West Ham at this stage last season in the same competition. After a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Upton Park, West Ham suffered a 2-1 defeat in Giurgiu.
Manager Slaven Bilic said: “We have a big job to do against the Romanian champions. I know there are many players from last year and a lot of international players.
“For me they played a good game against Copenhagen at home and I know how good the teams from Romania can be.”
3. How to get involved
The game will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2 . Coverage starts at 7pm. Live commentary on BBC Radio London. If you’re betting, West Ham are 13/30 for the win with Astra Giurgiu 15/4 with 3/1 the draw.
4. Slaven’s depleted squad
Manager Slaven Bilic has been left with a significant injury headache to the point where new signing Jonathan Calleri has been drafted in to the squad immediately. As well as Ayew, he has Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini and Sofiane Feghouli out injured. Meanwhile Arthur Masuaku is cup-tied and Dimitri Payet didn’t travel to Romania. Darren Randolph stands in for No.1 Adrian.
Bilic said of Calleri: “He came and trained on Tuesday in the morning, but the other players weren’t out on the pitch. He trained with the guys this evening and he might be out there tomorrow.
“He is in form, played in three games at the Olympics and scored, so he is definitely in good shape and doesn’t need pre-season and all that. The only question-mark is jet-lag, so we’ll see on Thursday.”
5. What they’re saying
Mark Noble: “The games are coming thick and fast, had we got a point at Chelsea it would have been fantastic.
“Now we have a huge week ahead, first away in Romania and the very first Premier League game at the new stadium.”
Darren Randolph: “Playing at the Euros against those teams and players can only help you when you perform at that level and give you confidence.
“I had a good cup run last season and I ended up playing a number of games. If that happens again this season it is down to me to perform whenever I get the chance to play.”