By Jonty Banks

18th May, 2023 | 5:30pm

West Ham United early team news: Vladimir Coufal in contention to start v AZ Alkmaar

Vladimir Coufal is in contention to start for West Ham United in their clash against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday evening (18 May).

The Hammers take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of the Europa Conference League clash at the AFAS Stadium, with either one of Basel or Fiorentina awaiting in the final if victorious.

The West Ham Way have shared that Coufal, who was replaced by Thilo Kehrer in the first leg due to an injury, is available for selection, while Michail Antonio has also recovered from a dead leg.

David Moyes is expected to recall Alphonse Areola to the starting lineup in between the sticks ahead of regular number one Lukasz Fabianksi.

Big boost

The only player who is unavailable for selection for Moyes is the mercurial Gianluca Scamacca, so the near-perfect fitness of his squad couldn’t have come at a better time.

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The Hammers boss took a huge risk in the Premier League at the weekend by resting integral trio Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Kurt Zouma for the 2-0 loss against Brentford – clearly having one eye on this crunch clash against AZ Alkmaar.

You can’t really blame Moyes for this decision, considering the long wait West Ham United have had for a piece of silverware.

If the club progressed to the final of the Europa Conference League, they could be in with a chance of winning their first piece of silverware in more than 40 years.

West Ham turned on the style in the second half of the first leg at the London Stadium, and if they start the game in a similar vein, there should be no stopping them.

Although they have endured a disappointing campaign, especially after huge levels of investment last summer, Europa Conference League silverware would represent a successful season for Moyes’ side.