Skip to main content

Lusitans v West Ham: Tomkins seeks to silence minnows

James Tomkins is eager for West Ham to quickly kill off any hopes Lusitans have of making a game of it in Thursday's UEFA Europa League first-round qualifying second leg.

West Ham head to Andorra with a 3-0 lead after Diafra Sakho's first-half double was followed up by Tomkins' 58th-minute header to seal a comfortable win at Upton Park last week.

It took 40 minutes for Sakho to open the scoring, though, and Tomkins wants to see a faster start this time around.

"It's always important to get on the scoresheet early on against teams like this, as that makes them quiet straight away," he told the club's official website.

"We could have got the goal earlier than we did. It felt like a long time coming, but when it came we got another one quickly and that killed them off.

"We could have got more out of it, but we took the positives. It was the first game back, we're still trying to pick up our fitness. A win's a win and 3-0 was quite convincing in the end."

The visitors' Premier League stars will have to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings, with Lusitans' Estadi Comunal d'Andorra la Vella having an all-seated capacity of around 1,100.

It is a ground at which new West Ham manager Slaven Bilic - who looks set to hand the reins to academy manager Terry Westley once again, as he did in the first leg - has been in charge of a match before, having taken Croatia there for a World Cup qualifier in 2009.

Westley took the unusual step of naming his starting line-up for the first leg a couple of days in advance, but has declined to do so for this week's meeting.

Reece Oxford and Josh Cullen were handed debuts last time out, with the former becoming the youngest player in West Ham's history at the age of 16 years and 198 days.

He has been with the squad at a training camp in Cork, where Irishman Joey O'Brien has been looking ahead to the challenge that awaits in the independent principality that lies nestled between Spain and France.

"I played for Bolton when they were in Europe and they were some of the top games to play in," he said.

"You could have been playing a pre-season friendly in front of just a few thousand, but it was great to play in front of a full house at the Boleyn Ground on Thursday, our fans were fantastic.

"If you can get through the early rounds of the competition home and away, it stays with you forever."