Could Astra Giurgiu clash decide Kevin Nolan's West Ham future?

The struggling West Ham midfielder has been linked with a move away from Upton Park.

Ahead of West Ham United's Premier League opener against Arsenal, Slaven Bilic made it clear he has picked a weakened squad for Thursday night's Europa League clash against Astra Giurgiu.

Kevin Nolan is playing a leading part in that squad.

The 33-year-old struggled badly at Upton Park last season and has been the subject of transfer speculation recently, with not only West Ham fans calling for his head but the Daily Mirror linking him with a move to former club Bolton Wanderers.

And, considering his situation, it is far from unrealistic to suggest Nolan's West Ham career could be decided soon. Could the Astra Giurgiu clash itself be a make-or-break one for the experienced midfielder?

Indeed, letting Nolan lead the troops out in Romania is akin to throwing the 33-year-old out to the dogs. He's been given the responsibility of West Ham's fate in Europe while at the same time being indirectly told he's not being treated as a first-team regular.

Should Nolan impress, he may well convince Bilic he has a part to play in east London this season.

But should his poor form continue, the midfielder's excuses will have dried up at Upton Park. As well as being put under pressure, this is a chance for Nolan to prove himself. If it goes wrong, the West Ham hierarchy will have all the reason in the world to turn to him and say this is no longer working out.

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