The Mexican midfielder is suspended due to a second yellow card he picked up in the 97th minute of Ajax’s knockout-round play-off second-leg defeat by Union Berlin in February during last season’s competition.
Hammers boss David Moyes insists the Premier League and Europa League are both the club’s priority competitions this season because of the financial rewards on offer for doing well, but confirmed he would make changes to his lineup following Saturday’s Premier League defeat to Manchester City.
Moyes made a decision this summer to promote Alphonse Areola to No1 goalkeeper ahead of Lukasz Fabianski, yet the Pole starts tonight. Their positions were reversed last season, when Areola played in Europe and Fabianski in the Premier League.
“Lukasz Fabianski will play tomorrow night”, Moyes told reporters on Wednesday. “Lukasz has been a brilliant goalkeeper and has done very little wrong to be out of the side.
“Lukasz’s form has been so, so good for the last few years, it’s been hard to do that. But we made that decision.”
Moyes added of the game against Serbian side Backa Topola: “We’ve got everybody available — everybody fit and ready to play. All the players are ready to go.
“I want to keep them all pushing. I think it’ll be a good opportunity for some of the players to show what they can do.”
Mohammed Kudus gets his chance to impress for West Ham, with Danny Ings leading the line. James Ward-Prowse and Lucas Paqueta keep their places in what is still a strong Hammers side.
West Ham XI: Fabianski; Kehrer, Ogbonna, Mavropanos, Cresswell; Ward-Prowse, Paqueta, Fornals; Benrahma, Kudus, Ings
Subs: Johnson, Zouma, Coufal, Antonio, Cornet, Areola, Aguerd, Soucek, Coventry, Emerson, Mubama, Anang.
Time and date: 8pm BST on Thursday September 21, 2023
Venue: London Stadium