Monday 25 September 2017

Slaven Bilic urges Manuel Lanzini to fill Dimitri Payet's shoes at West Ham

Manuel Lanzini
Manuel Lanzini

Slaven Bilic has urged Manuel Lanzini to fill the void left by Dimitri Payet's imminent West Ham walkout.

France star Payet this week rocked the Hammers by telling them he wants to leave and is refusing to play against Crystal Palace.

But Argentinian midfielder Lanzini has a handy knack of finding the net against the Eagles and can step out of Payet's shadow at the London Stadium on Saturday.

"Since I've been here we played Palace twice at Selhurst Park," said Bilic.

"Last year we won 3-1 and this year 1-0. Both of those were really good performances from us.

"Lanzini has scored three goals against them. He scored in the first game last season, he scored in the 2-2 draw at Upton Park and he scored the winner in the 1-0 game this season.

"Hopefully he is going to score again."

Bilic is hoping Payet's actions will unite the rest of his squad.

The Hammers boss has fought the 29-year-old's corner all season, despite his dip in form following last term's heroics and his sparkling displays at Euro 2016.

So the sense of betrayal Bilic feels at Payet's decision was palpable when the Croatian broke the news to the media on Thursday morning.

Payet will be left in no doubt about the fans' opinion when the match kicks off - the terrace chant 'We've got Payet' is expected to begin with a different, less favourable two words.

But Bilic knows his players need to forget about their absent team-mate and concentrate on the task in hand, picking up three points to avoid being sucked back towards the relegation zone.

"It's going to be a demanding game in every sense," he said. "Also it will be a nervous game from both teams, because of what's at stake.

"It's a great opportunity for us to get back on the path in the league that we have shown in the last five or six games.

"We haven't got a big squad now left, we just have the players for this game. But we have enough players to put a strong team out and have good players on the bench.

"It is the team that I am managing. Many times clubs have lost quality players but gained a team."

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport