West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has challenged fit-again striker Diafra Sakho to rekindle his early Hammers form after netting in their victory over Cheltenham in Wednesday's Carabao Cup second round clash.
Back surgery limited Sakho to just four appearances last season but the Senegal frontman was back among the goals on his first start this term. He was joined on the scoresheet by fellow forward Andre Ayew.
Sakho found the net 12 times during the 2014-15 campaign after arriving from Metz and, while League Two Cheltenham provided limited opposition, Bilic is eyeing a brighter season for the 27-year-old.
“We all know his quality but the problem with Diafra is he wasn’t available for us last season which was a big, big blow,” said Bilic. “He is finally back and it is very important to score goals. If he stays away from injuries, we know his qualities.”
West Ham opened the scoring five minutes before the break when Sam Byram’s threaded pass enabled Sakho to swivel in the penalty area and fire a low shot beyond Cheltenham goalkeeper Jonathan Flatt.
The Hammers all but sealed their place in round three moments later as Ayew hared onto a Sakho through ball and took advantage of Flatt’s poor positioning to slot, with ease, into the far corner.
Newcastle’s miserable start to the season continued, meanwhile, as they were beaten 3-2 by second-tier Nottingham Forest. Tyler Walker, son of former England defender Des, scored the winner in extra-time.
There were no such problems for fellow Premier League newcomers Huddersfield, who dispatched League One Rotherham 2-1, while Stoke thrashed Rochdale 4-0 and Burnley beat Blackburn 2-0 in the east Lancashire derby.