Few could have predicted the extent to which West Ham United would struggle at the beginning of the current Premier League season.

The Hammers find themselves near the foot of the table after moving to the London Stadium, being rocked by injuries and failing to even come close to replicating their impressive displays of last term.

There is no doubt that Slaven Bilic has enough talent in his squad to rapidly address the situation but he will rely on certain key men to make the difference.

While Dimitri Payet is the star of the side, he cannot turn the tide single-handedly; here are three others who can play a major part in any improvement.

Simone Zaza

The arrival of Gonzalo Higuain at Juventus meant Zaza had to move on knowing his first-team opportunities would become increasingly limited in Turin.

The 25-year-old was fortunate to arrive into a squad struggling for fit, experienced options up front.

Injuries to Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew have meant Zaza has had a clear run to impress his manager and fans at the London Stadium but he has yet to produce the goods.

Goals will be vital to any West Ham recovery and if the Italian can start providing them, he will begin to erase memories of his dreadful penalty at Euro 2016.

He is already on borrowed time however, with the other forwards in the squad edging closer to being fit for action.

Aaron Cresswell

Cresswell is believed to be ahead of scheduled as he bids to fight his way back to full fitness after sustaining a knee ligament injury in pre-season.

With the player nearing a return to the fold in the coming weeks, Bilic will be relieved that he can soon call on one of last season’s most-consistent performers.

In the 26-year-old’s absence, the full-back positions have become a source of problems for the manager and nobody else in the squad has been able to fill the gap left by Cresswell consistently.

If the defender can find his form quickly, it will be a massive boost for an ailing side.

Winston Reid

West Ham’s fine campaign in 2015-16 was based on solid foundations at the back and few within that rearguard were more immovable than Winston Reid.

The big New Zealander was an absolute rock alongside James Collins or Angelo Ogbonna and was under close scrutiny of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

Reid is also now an experienced top-flight defender and at 28 years old will be expected to lead by example as the Hammers look to fight their way out of their current mess.

On his day the towering defender is one of the most formidable centre-backs in the division and he will need to produce his best form to plug the current leaks in the backline. Bilic will be backing the big man to step up.


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