Italy star Angelo Ogbonna set to make competitive debut for West Ham as co-owner confirms Reid absence

Big summer signing Angelo Ogbonna looks set to make his competitive debut for West Ham United against FC Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League tomorrow night.

The Hammers splashed out £8 million to bring Italy international Ogbonna to the Boleyn Ground from Juventus.

The big 6ft 4 defender has had some friendly action so far under Slaven Bilic.

But now he looks set to make his competitive and European debut for his new club after Hammers co-owner David Gold revealed Winston Reid will not be risked for the third qualifying round first leg match against the Romanians at Upton Park.

Responding to a fan asking about Reid's availability on social networking site Twitter, Gold said: "Winston will no be risked on Thursday."


Reid was forced to pull out before West Ham's penalty shootout victory over Maltese minnows Birkirkara FC in the last round after picking up a knock.

It would have left Bilic's side short given that James Tomkins is suspended for three matches after being sent off in Malta.

Ogbonna likely to partner James Collins against Romanians

But with Doneil Henry having played in a friendly at Norwich City on Tuesday night it looks likely that Ogbonna will partner James Collins in the heart of the Hammers defence.

It is good news too as Tomkins and Collins were exposed for a lack of pace and sharpness against Birkirkara with both at fault for the Maltese side's goal.

One of Ogbonna's key assets is pace and it will be needed against an FC Astra Giurgiu side who are experienced in Europe in recent seasons and will represent West Ham's toughest test yet.

He will be in good company as his likely central defensive partner Collins has already been singing his praises since his arrival in east London.

He recently told West Ham's official website: "At the back, Angelo communicates well, is a quick, strong defender and is a good addition to the squad. He is big boy, but he is quick with it, which obviously helps as well."

While the third qualifying round of the Europa League is a far cry from Ogbonna's last taste of Europe – the Champions League final against Barcelona at the end of last season – his experience could well prove vital.

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