After two positive performances and two clean sheets its Tuesday night and Championship Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup. Tonight’s game has to be seen as an opportunity to maintain momentum and give some players some vital time on the pitch. With that in mind, I would keep the same formation that seems to be working well and I would keep Hart, Reid and Fonte from the weekend to help maintain the defensive solidity.

Declan Rice will get a chance to play in his preferred position of centre half because of Collins’ injury with Byram starting on the right and Cresswell on the left. In midfield I would give Mark Noble the central midfield spot alongside Nathan Holland with new signing Haksabanovic and Ayew either side of Sahko in attack.

I think the League Cup needs to be given the respect it deserves because it realistically offers West Ham one of only two chances of silverware in a season. That being said with the Tottenham game lurking in the background it’s vital the more established players get a chance to rest and focus on the game on Saturday lunchtime.

Giving the youngsters a chance in a game like this alongside more experienced professionals gives them a chance to develop in a game with something on it. In truth, the League Cup will not be top of Bolton’s priority list in an overcrowded Championship schedule, but in manager Phil Parkinson, they have a manager with experience of knocking Premier League teams out of cup competitions so respect is a must. We must match them for effort first and earn the right to play and let the greater quality in the team win the game. The result is everything here but it’s a big game for the youngsters to state their claim for further first team opportunities.

Gk Hart

RWB Byram

CB Fonte

CB Reid

CB Rice

LWB Cresswell

CM Noble

ACM Holland

LSF Haksabanovic

Stk – Sahko

RSF – Ayew

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