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Talk about a heartbreaking way to exit one of the most prestigious competitions in football – Kidderminster Harriers did the non-league landscape proud as they pushed West Ham all the way at Aggborough, even going into half time 1-0 up thanks to Alex Penny‘s finish.
However, David Moyes called upon the cavalry in the second 45, and it only just paid off as Declan Rice produced a striker’s finish to level the scores and force extra time in the dying embers before Jarrod Bowen‘s controversial winner in the 121st minute of the contest.
West Ham may be the ones with their ball in the pot for the next round, but Moyes and the travelling party would have been less than impressed with what they witnessed for the majority of the contest, as a number of second-string players failed to repay their manager’s faith in them.
Victory at Kidderminster did at least end a two-game losing run for the Hammers, whose Champions League destiny is now out of their own hands as they now find themselves fifth in the Premier League table – one point behind Manchester United having played a game more.
With Arsenal also applying the pressure, West Ham would choose no better time to produce another goal-laden performance at the London Stadium, as they have scored at least two goals in each of their last four Premier League games on home turf.
West Ham will hope to welcome Michail Antonio back to the starting lineup following his late return from international duty, but Angelo Ogbonna continues to recover from knee surgery.
First-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was not involved against Kidderminster a couple of weeks on from returning a positive COVID-19 test, although he ought to be fine to displace Alphonse Areola in between the sticks here.
Moyes will not hesitate to demote some under-performing players from the weekend to the bench here, with Alex Kral and Andriy Yarmolenko among them as Craig Dawson, Tomas Soucek and Pablo Fornals return.
The hosts have also been handed scares with Arthur Masuaku (knee) and Manuel Lanzini (calf), and Kurt Zouma will surely not be considered for selection after a shocking video emerged of the centre-back hitting and kicking his pet cat.
As for Watford, Emmanuel Dennis will make a timely return from suspension to lead the line for Watford, with one of Joao Pedro or Ken Sema now set to make way.
Peter Etebo has a slight chance of returning from his thigh problem in time to make the squad, but Kwadwo Baah and Nicolas Nkoulou remain in the treatment room, and AFCON-winning winger Ismaila Sarr will not return just yet.
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Hodgson is unlikely to make too many alterations to his XI after a solid start to life in the dugout, but Tom Cleverley and ex-Hammer Jeremy Ngakia could provide fresh legs if needed.
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio
Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara; Kucka, Kayembe, Sissoko; King, Dennis, Sema