Young striker Elliot Lee could get big chance to be West Ham's Europa League hero

West Ham Dugout

Young West Ham United striker Elliot Lee could be handed only his second ever start in Thursday night's make or break Europa League tie at FC Astra Giurgiu.

West Ham fans love nothing more than seeing a homegrown Hammer progress from the Academy into the first team.

There had long been calls from the terraces for the deadly youngster Lee to be given his chance in the senior side.

And when that chance came, for a Europa League qualifier against FC Lusitanos in Andorra last month, the 20-year-old didn't disappoint, marking his first start with a goal in a 1-0 win.

Since Slaven Bilic's arrival, Lee has been used sparingly, though, despite that goalscoring start to his senior West Ham career, with the likes of Modibo Maiga preferred instead.

Skeleton squad gives young Hammers a chance

The former Croatia boss has taken a skeleton squad to Romania for the second leg, with the tie delicately poised at 2-2 and West Ham knowing they must win the game to progress.

The majority of players who will start against Arsenal in the opening Premier League game on Sunday have not even traveled to Romania, bar Carl Jenkinson, who won't be able to play against his parent club.

With a host of injuries to strikers and main man Diafra Sakho one of those sitting the game out, it opens the door for Lee to start and make a real name for himself.

If West Ham's Twitter account is anything to by, Lee could well be in line to feature.

Posting as the Hammers squad arrived in Eastern Europe for the game, the club said: "Elliot Lee already has a European goal to his name this summer and will hope for more tomorrow."

 

Tie could be the perfect stage for Lee to truly announce himself

The highly rated son of former England star Rob showed his determination to make a real go of his Hammers career by returning to  pre-season training early in a bid to feature for the club's first team.

A regular scorer at both youth and reserve level, Lee found game time difficult to come by during Sam Allardyce's four-year tenure.

Loan spells at Colchester United and Luton Town saw the burly and pacy striker net his first senior goals either side of an ill-fated stint at Southend United where he sustained a hamstring injury in his first training session.

Even in West Ham's final games of the season, where they had little but pride to play for, Lee was not given his first start for the club and had to be content with just 13 minutes at the end of the final game of the season up at Newcastle United - the team where his dad Rob made his name.

But now Lee has the chance to help the club make it through a tricky tie where they find themselves behind on away goals and are probably underdogs to progress.

If he does, and with the injuries to Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll taken into account, Lee could propel himself up the pecking order at the Boleyn Ground and finally kick-start his Premier League career.

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