Key changes Slaven Bilic must make to West Ham team for Newcastle clash

Slaven Bilic

West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic must resist the temptation to make too many changes to his side ahead of today's trip to Newcastle United.

The Hammers go into the game at St James Park fifth in the Premier League table and one point off the Champions League places after winning 3-1 away at Bournemouth in midweek.

That was a fourth win in a row for Slaven Bilic's side in all competitions and extended their unbeaten run to a club record-equalling eight games.

The Hammers' form comes despite a glut of injuries to seven key first team players in recent times.

And now they are getting their injured players back, including star man Dimitri Payet, the Irons are a club very much upwardly mobile.

After the impressive win over the Cherries, which was orchestrated by the magnificent Payet, Bilic must tinker with his side for a variety of reasons.

But despite a busy schedule of late the fomer Croatia manager should resist any temptation to rotate his squad with the likes of Victor Moses, Winston Reid and Nikica Jelavic vying for first team starts.

These are the key changes to the side which started that game when they face Steve McClaren's relegation battlers.

1) Enner Valencia to replace Andy Carroll

It was no surprise to anyone that Andy Carroll was injured yet again after a few minutes against Bournemouth.

The big striker will be out for around a month with a hamstring injury.

He had actually been in decent form for Bilic's side playing a crucial role in their four-game winning streak.

But while it is a blow for the Hammers to be without the Geordie, it could actually work in their favour.

He should be replaced up front by the pacy Enner Valencia who will be flanked by powerful winger Michail Antonio and that man Payet.

Valencia scored twice and looked a real threat when he replaced Carroll in the Hammers' attack against Bournemouth and will look to continue that form on a big pitch at St James Park.

While it means West Ham lack a target man to play off, it will suit their counter attacking game perfectly away from home and pace and guile has been troubling the Magpies defence all season.

Bilic should therefore leave Nikica Jelavic on the sidelines and only use him if necessary for this game.

2) Cheikhou Kouyate comes back in

They may have won without him midweek but make no mistake Cheikhou Kouyate is so important to West Ham. All the headlines this season, justifiably, have gone to the likes of Payet and Manuel Lanzini.

But without their Sengalese lion in the heart of midfield none of it would work anywhere near as effectively.

His energy and quality in midfield mean one minute he is breaking up play and the next embarking on a lung busting run towards the opposition's box.

Kouyate has such a huge influence on the game and also weighs in with his fair share of goals.

He will also be very important in helping to nulify the threat of Newcastle star Moussa Sissoko.

He is the perfect foil for Payet and will come into the side for the injured Carroll to replace Valencia in midfield.

Options from the bench

This week Bilic has a host of options from the bench as his squad - minus Carroll, Sakho and Lanzini - is looking a lot healthier.

He will have the likes of Reid, Moses, Jenkinson, Jelavic and Zarate to call on should they be needed as the Hammers go in search of yet another away win.

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