Trailing on away goals, West Ham have employed a risky strategy in attempting to win a place in the final Europa League qualifying round.
The first-leg of their third preliminary round fixture against Astra Giurgiu ended 2-2, meaning the Irons will more than likely need to snare the spoils in Romania if they are to progress to the next stage.
It’s a feat they’re priced up at 31/20 to achieve, making them marginal favourites next to the hosts’ 8/5, though when the fact only one of Slaven Bilic’s first-team regulars has made the trip is taken into consideration, those looking to make some easy money today needn’t look beyond the underdogs.
News.bwin.com correspondent Michael Lintorn funneled the following information back from Giurgiu:
“The price keeps coming in, but Astra Giurgiu are still currently available to back at 8/5 to beat West Ham despite reports that Carl Jenkinson is the only first XI player to travel.”
Kevin Nolan also boarded the plane, but finds himself very much a peripheral figure at the Boleyn Ground nowadays, while Jenkinson is only included on account of his ineligibility to face Arsenal this weekend due to his being on loan from the Gunners.
A full-strength Hammers side found the Astra obstacle too tough to surmount seven days ago, despite having home advantage; logically, it’s tough to see them doing so with a severely weakened team on foreign soil.
To add further substance to this supposition, a senior player-laden XI were beaten by Maltese outfit Birkirkara in the away leg of the previous round, while they were only able to best grotesquely inferior Lusitanos 1-0.