By Anthony Onifade

15th Mar, 2023 | 9:59pm

Gianluca Scamacca must repay West Ham United faith after Moyes backing ahead of AEK Larnaca clash

West Ham boss David Moyes has confirmed that Gianluca Scamacca will start their UEFA Europa Conference League clash against AEK Larnaca and the Italian has the chance to repay his manager’s faith.

The Italian hitman has struggled to make a consistent impression in the team since making his £35.5million switch from Sassuolo last summer, scoring just three goals in the league from 16 appearances.

And the 24-year-old forward has already been linked with a return back to Italy [Sport Mediaset, 9 March], with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus all interested in ending his London Stadium nightmare.

David Moyes recently admitted that the striker’s “physical data” [13 March] is not at the level required to start games under him, following his injury trouble and has only appeared from the bench in their last two games since returning.

And according to the Daily Mail [13 March], the Italian international’s conduct in training isn’t impressing West Ham coaches with the striker claimed to have “chucked it” already.

However, ahead of the Hammers’ second-leg European tie against AEK Larnaca, Moyes has reiterated his belief in the Italian to come good and confirmed he will start the game at the London Stadium [, 15 March].

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“Thursday is a good chance for Gianluca [to start],” Moyes said. “We want him back, he’s got something and we like him a lot. He’s a great boy and we really, really like him and we want him to do well.

“We want our Gianluca back to the one we had from August to November. The one we’ve got at the moment looks slightly different and we need him to get back to those levels because at those levels we could use him and he scored some goals and had some contributions when he was still growing into the league and getting used to it. He’s missed quite a lot with injuries and illness, etcetera, but we want him to get back.

“Gianluca is an Italian international and he has so many good qualities. We really do like him a lot, so we just want to see them come out.”

Moyes’ public backing of the striker will certainly do a lot to boost Scamacca’s confidence moving forward, but also hopefully signify that the club will continue to back him beyond this season as a potential leading man up front.

Scamacca has already been warned by his national team manager Roberto Mancini that he must play more, and Thursday night’s [16 March] second-leg tie presents the perfect opportunity for the Italian hitman to stake his claim and repay Moyes’ faith in him.

There is Michail Antonio and Danny Ings to compete with for a starting spot, but that should be no hurdle if Scamacca wants to be one of the best forwards around.

It’s vital to remember that the lean forward was touted as one of Europe’s most coveted young forwards before his move. You don’t lose that title after just under a year of trying to find your place in a totally different environment. He clearly needs more time.

The ball is now firmly in Scamacca’s court.