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Match Preview: West Ham vs Sturm Graz II

West Ham Look to start preseason on the right foot in Austria

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West Ham kick off the pre-season tour with an opening match against FC Sturm Graz II. The Austrian third division side should present a simple opener for the Irons.

Lead by exciting young coach, and former Austria international Joachim Standfest, Sturm Graz II are the feeder club for Sturm Graz.

While their parent club is one of the bigger sides in Austria, the youngsters of Sturm Graz II are decidedly less impressive. Last season, they narrowly avoided relegation to the fourth tier of Austrian football.

Opposition Preview

As a youth side, Sturm Graz II are filled with young, unknown talents. A few stars of last season include 17 year olds Michael Lema and Dario Maresic. The two impressed last year, and there have been rumors surrounding a first team call up for the pair.

Another star is Thomas Gosweiner, an Austrian youth international and a regular goal scorer at youth levels, Gosweiner has also earned a first team call up.

A cool and technical finisher, Gosweiner has grabbed 24 goals in his three years playing in lower leagues. He has drawn criticism is some circles for his hot head, having averaged a yellow card every three games.

West Ham Preview

Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll are both out recovering from injuries, while Diafra Sakho is seemingly in a state of constant recovery. That leaves the striker spot open for Toni Martinez and Ashley Fletcher, two youth team players looking to break into the senior squad next year.

Manchester United v West Ham United - EFL Cup Quarter-Final
Ashley Fletcher should get a chance to lead the line
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Slow progress in the transfer market means Andre Ayew is the only senior player with experience at striker, though the Ghanaian prefers wing or attacking mid. Despite rumors of an imminent transfer, Sofiane Feghouli has been included in the team. He will be fighting with Robert Snodgrass and youngster Nathan Holland.

19 year old Holland has broken through to West Ham's youth side, and featured intermittently in England's youth set up.

In the middle, Manuel Lanzini will split time with Mark Noble, Edimilson Fernandes, Cheikhou Kouyate. Hopefully some of the younger players will be handed an opportunity against weak opposition.

With Winston Reid out, and Jose Fonte the defensive spots become quite interesting. Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins should start, but Declan Rice and Reece Burke may also see game time.New signing Pablo Zabaleta will get a chance to impress. Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku are set for a battle to earn the left back spot. Both will be looking to impress over pre-season. In goal, with Joe Hart set to sign on loan sometime tomorrow, this may be the coup de gras for one of Adrian of Darren Randolph.