Winston Reid calls on teammates to help prove he was right to stay at West Ham by progressing in Europe

Winston Reid and Libor Kozak

Star West Ham United defender Winston Reid has called on his teammates to strive for progress in the Europa League and prove he was right to stay.

The Hammers are out in Malta for the second leg of their second qualifying round match against minnows Birkirkara FC on Thursday night and Winston Reid has told the club's website what he wants from his side.

Slaven Bilic's side hold a narrow 1-0 advantage going into the game courtesy of James Tomkins' last gasp winner in the first leg at Upton Park last week.

The match was Reid's European debut for West Ham but overall it was a disappointing performance in front of a near full house at the Boleyn Ground.

After ending months of speculation by signing a six-year deal with the east Londoners earlier this year, Reid is looking forward to a bright future.

The Hammers know it will be far from easy in the return fixture given the sweltering conditions and highly organised and motivated opposition.

But speaking at a pre-match press conference covered by West Ham's official website, Reid said his side must use their experience to win the game as he is desperate to make the competition proper.

"Yes, playing in Europe was one of the things I wanted to do and I felt I could achieve it with this club,” the 26-year-old told whufc.com.

"These first few rounds are tough games against teams we are not really used to, but we want to progress and reach the group stage, obviously.

“I think we have shown by our dedication and training that we aim to do that and I am sure, come Thursday night, we will go out there and put in a professional performance.”

Hammers must learn from past experiences

West Ham will do well to learn some lessons from their last foray into Europe nine years ago.

This is the first time in nearly a decade that the Hammers will be true to their famous song of going 'Over Land and Sea'.

The last time was in the 2006-07 season when they were knocked out of the Europa League's predecessor the UEFA Cup by Italian side Palermo 4-0 on aggregate.

Dare to dream?

For those fans who believe in fate, there is reason to dream. West Ham will be the last team to qualifiy for Europe - as they have this season - through the Fair Play system as it is being abolished in favour of a cash prize for the respective clubs.

Therefore the Irons could find themselves in the Europa League for the final season at their famous Upton Park home.

And should they go on and win the competition they would automatically qualify for the Champions League for the first season at their new 54,000 seater Olympic Stadium in 2016-17.

But those fans whose feet are firmly planted on the floor will perhaps take a slightly more pessimistic - or realistic depending which way you look at it - view and just hope for some exciting matches along the way.

Should the Hammers go all the way, though, it would have added an astonishing 23 matches to their fixture list this season.

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