West Ham to make late call on Payet fitness


Slaven Bilic says West Ham will make a late decision on whether Dimitri Payet will be available to start their Premier League opener against Chelsea on Monday.

The 28-year-old returned to training on Saturday after being given extra time off following his Euro 2016 exploits, in which he scored three times to help France to the final on home soil.

However, Bilic admits that the club will need to assess whether Payet, who scored nine goals and produced 12 assists in an exceptional first season after signing from Marseille, will be able to play the full 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

"We are still waiting to see on a couple of positions who are going to start," the Croatian told a news conference on Thursday.

"Dimitri Payet is one of the players. He came back very fit. Like every player he needs a pre-season but he came back very motivated."

Midfielders Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate, who scored twice before picking up a knock against Domzale in the Europa League play-offs last week, should also be available for selection.

Manuel Lanzini, Aaron Cresswell and Gokhan Tore have all been ruled out, though the latter resumed training on Thursday.

Chelsea are expected to reprise their usual role as title challengers under former Juventus coach Antonio Conte after placing 10th last season, their worst league finish since 1995-96.

However, Bilic hopes West Ham can condemn the 47-year-old to defeat in his first game in English football by taking inspiration from last season's impressive away wins over Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

"Antonio Conte is a great manager and wants to change the way they approach the game and the principles," Bilic said.

"I am sure he will do a good job there. We beat the big teams away last season and it was a good experience for us."