Europa League: Elliot Lee’s time has come to stake his West Ham claims

Many will have been hoping for a cricket score at Upton Park for West Ham’s Europa League opener against FC Lusitans of Andorra, but while it was a pleasing performance for the east Londoners the barrage of goals didn’t come.

The Hammers are priced up at 1/25 to win the away leg, a price that will entice next to no one, while those ‘Overs’ backers may be thinking twice after getting stung at Upton Park.

With Slaven Bilic and Terry Westley giving youth even more of a chance in the return leg, it could be time for Elliot Lee to press his claims for first team action at the Boleyn Ground.

A 72nd minute substitute last week, the son of former Hammers and Newcastle midfielder Rob has struggled to force his way into first team proceedings as yet.

The Andorran opponents struggled to cope with the pace and trickery of Mauro Zarate in London, so the diminutive Lee could have a field day in the peaks of the Pyrenees.

If the 20-year-old is handed the opportunities in front of goal, expect him to take them. He netted five times in 11 games for the Hammers’ U21 side last season, before impressing in a loan spell at Luton.

He netted three times in the short loan spell with the Hatters, and will be keen to put himself about in Europe, whether to bolster his senior squad claims or to advertise his credentials to any other sides interested in a loan swoop.

Playing alongside Diafra Sakho, who netted a brace in the capital seven days ago, he is probably seen as West Ham’s second-most potent goal threat, but his price screams value to net first.

Sakho is marked up as 2/1 jolly to break the deadlock at the Estadi Comunal d’Andorra la Vella, and perhaps rightly so, but at 10/3 to get the opener, the price on Lee snatching his first competitive goal for the club looks too good to pass up.

While their opponents were happy to sit back and time waste from the early stages in England, they will have to attack on their own patch, thus leaving gaps for people like Lee to exploit.

The aforementioned Sakho, Enner Valencia, Andy Carroll (when he’s fit) and Mauro Zarate would all be ahead of him in the Hammers’ forward line pecking order and with a move for Mattia Destro in the pipeline, Lee must take any chance he gets to adorn himself to the Hammers faithful.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.