West Ham star Winston Reid has his own views on Europa League approach

Winston Reid and Libor Kozak

West Ham United star Winston Reid s insists the club must take the Europa League seriously from the start.

The Hammers are looking the most likely Premier League team to qualify for next season's competition as the highest placed club in the FIFA Fair Play standings not to have already cemented a place through their league position.

Entering at the qualifying stage could potentially double the number of fixtures the East Londoners play next season.

And it would also mean playing competitive matches a full five weeks earlier than normal with games kicking off as early as July 2.

At the weekend, under pressure manager Sam Allardyce said he was the man to lead the club into Europe.

But he also admitted he would not necessarily use a full strength side when the qualifying rounds get under way.

He said: "There are elements in the early stages (you need to look at). International players won't be back for a start.

"All the players that haven't quite played as much will probably be used more as well as some of the younger professionals."

But now star defender Reid, who played in the qualifiers for former club FC Midtjylland back in 2008, has warned the club they cannot just put out a 'willy nilly side' and expect to progress.

"There are no easy games, it is tough,” the 26-year-old warned on the club's official website.

“The club has to be ready, you can’t just go out there and put a willy-nilly team out there.

“When I was in Denmark (with FC Midtjylland), the season had already started in July, but the Premier League won’t have started and we might be coming up against teams who may have already started their season.”

Whether Allardyce is in charge at Upton Park by then remains to be seen with speculation rife that he will be replaced in the summer.

But Reid says whatever the club decide to do they will need to act quickly to bulk up the squad ahead of what could be a mammoth but exciting last ever season at the Boleyn.

He said: "It is obviously one of those things that the club and the players would look forward to, but it is going to take a massive effort from the squad to all pull together.

“European games means more matches and also starting the season earlier, but I guess we will have to cross that bridge when we come to it."

Reid signed a new six-year deal at the club back in January, one of the club's best bit of business in recent years, because he believed he could achieve his ambition of playing European football with the Hammers.

Although his side slipped down from fourth place at Christmas to 11th going into the final match of the season, he may well be proved right sooner than he expected.

West Ham will officially find out whether they have made it into the Europa League qualifying rounds shortly after the season ends, providing Liverpool - the only team above the Hammers in the Fair Play standings - maintain a final finish of sixth place or above.

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