West Ham are set to field a second-string side for tonight’s Europa League match against FC Lusitans, with even new manager Slaven Bilic absent from the bench for the visit of the Andorran part-timers.
The Hammers plan to give first-team debuts to three players, including youngsters Reece Oxford and Lewis Page, with a host of regulars such as Adrian, Winston Reid and Kevin Nolan missing.
Bilic has been in Ireland directing first-team pre-season training and only flies back today, leaving academy boss Terry Westley to take charge of what is officially the Croatian’s first game as manager.
Westley said: “We’ve had to put a plan together very quickly as we didn’t know whether we’d be in Europe until after the last game.”
The first leg of the first qualifying round tie comes less than six weeks since West Ham’s final match of last season, and 36 days before the start of the new Premier League campaign.
The Hammers only qualified through Uefa’s fair play ranking after finishing 12th domestically, while Lusitans were runners-up in the semi-professional Andorran top-flight last season.
West Ham fell at the first hurdle in their last European campaign, losing 4-0 on aggregate to Italian side Palermo in the 2006 Uefa Cup.
A sell-out despite the modest opposition, the game is one of eight matches they face before reaching the competition proper, and the first of their farewell season at the Boleyn Ground.