It has been a busy pre-season for West Ham so far, having already playing fixtures in the United States and Austria.
And now they’re in Slovenia preparing for Thursday night’s Europa League third qualifying round first leg fixture against NK Domzale.
By now Slaven Bilic will know his starting XI for the club’s first competitive fixture of the 16/17 season, but there’s one player in particular who will be eager to get his chance to shine come kick-off.
Ashley Fletcher signed from Manchester United on a free transfer earlier this summer and has so far impressed massively in pre-season, netting twice so far.
And thanks to Betway, who have been kind enough to fly me out to Slovenia for the game, I got the chance to catch up with Fletcher after the team’s light training session on the Stozice Stadium pitch on Wednesday evening.
And unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old told me that he hasn’t had any trouble settling in to his new club.
“All the boys have made me feel very welcome, all the coaching staff have helped me settle in well so, I’ve felt really welcome,” he told me with a smile on his face.
You can already tell he is enjoying being a part of first team plans at the Hammers and after netting twice in pre-season, he must already have his eyes on a place in Bilic’s starting XI against NK Domzale. But he’s remaining grounded.
I asked the youngster whether he thinks he’s done enough to impress Bilic, and he immediately admitted that it’s still early days but he’s doing all he can.
“I hope so but I can’t rely on that,” he insisted.
“I’ve got to keep working and hopefully when I get my chance to come on the pitch I can score a goal. I’m not going to say I’ve done anything yet, I’ve just got to keep going and impress the manager.”
And Fletcher also believes the challenge of NK Domzale is going to be a tough one, but it’s a challenge he believes West Ham have enough to overcome.
He said: “Any team in the Europa League are going to be tough opponents, and despite the quality of the side we’re playing hopefully we should have enough to beat them.
“But any game away in the Europa League is very difficult.”
Humble words from someone who speaks so well for someone so young, but my final question gets Fletcher smiling. I ask him; How much are you looking forward to playing at the London Stadium and in front of 60,000 of the most passionate fans in the country?
“It’s one of the main reasons why I came, the ambition of the club to move to an impressive ground,” he admits.
“I love the way in which the club is progressing and I can’t wait to play in front of our home fans.”
As our quick chat ends and he poses for a few pictures (above) I can’t help but feel West Ham have got themselves a huge talent this summer. He’s a tall lad and will no doubt strike fear in to defenders for years to come; and if he plays as well as he speaks then you can guarantee we’ll be singing his name at the London Stadium very soon.