It’s an honour to captain this West Ham side, says James Tomkins

The 26-year old has been named as the Hammers captain for tonight's Europa League qualifier.

It’s an early return to competitive action for West Ham United tonight as they take on FC Lusitans in their Europa League qualifier at the Boleyn Ground.

James Tomkins has spoken to the club’s official website about his pride at being named captain for the crucial game.

“It’s a massive honour to captain the side, let alone captain the side in Europe," he said.

He also touched on his role as a senior player in what is a particularly young squad, adding: “I’m delighted, obviously I’m one of the more experienced players in this squad... I’m looking forward to communicating with the younger lads on the pitch and helping them through it.”

The centre-back was in fine form for the Hammers last season before a dislocated shoulder cut short his campaign, and he will be looking to kick on in the coming months to ensure his place in Slaven Bilic’s plans.

There has been talk of West Ham struggling to fill the Olympic Stadium when they uproot for the 2016-17 season, but tonight’s turnout should act as a confidence-booster with the Boleyn a compete sell-out.

Tomkins expressed his appreciation for the support, stating: “The atmosphere is going to be electric tomorrow... I don’t think anyone was expecting a sell-out but we’re all delighted that it is."

“We’re all delighted and it’s particularly good for the younger ones making their debut, it’s fantastic.”

Last Hurrah at the Boleyn?

The 2015/16 season marks West Ham’s last at their original East End home and it’s a change parallel to a host of others at the club. The Sam Allardyce era is over, with new boss Slaven Bilic drafted in to push the club that bit further, and the recent signing of Dmitri Payet is another indication of the Hammers' growing ambition.

The Europa League represents a return to continental competition for the first time in eight years and the feeling around the club is one of quiet optimism over what this season could bring.

With several quality players continuing to be linked with moves to the Boleyn and the current squad already well-stocked for talent, there is the growing feeling that this coming campaign could be a bit special.

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