West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has conceded he is unsure if Dimitri Payet will be fit enough to start in the club's Premier League curtain-raiser away to Chelsea on Monday night (15 August).
The French international emerged as one of the top flight's most exciting players last term following a hugely successful switch from Marseille. But his chances of being fully ready for the start of the new domestic campaign always appeared questionable after his summer exploits at Euro 2016.
Payet started all but one of Les Bleus' seven matches en route to the final of their home tournament, earning plaudits for a stunning late strike that toppled Romania in the opening match as well as notching goals against Albania and in the quarter-final thrashing of Iceland. After a much-needed break, the 29-year-old returned to training with individual sessions at Rush Green last weekend before quickly joining up with the rest of the squad.
His return came too late for the player to feature in the Europa League third qualifying round tie against Slovenian outfit NK Domzale, the second leg of which was West Ham's first competitive fixture played at the Olympic Stadium, but he did replace Michail Antonio for the final 16 minutes of Sunday's 3-2 home Betway Cup friendly defeat to Juventus.
"We are still waiting to see on a couple of positions who are going to start," manager Slaven Bilic told a pre-match press conference on Thursday morning (11 August). "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."
West Ham have been active in the transfer market this week, following the earlier signings of Manuel Lanzini, Havard Nordtveit, Ashley Fletcher, Sofiane Feghouli and Gokhan Tore by completing a club-record £20.5m ($26.6m) deal for Andre Ayew and also recruiting Arthur Masuaku from Olympiacos to fill the void at left-back created by Aaron Cresswell's serious knee injury.
While Bilic admits that forward Jonathan Calleri is set to join after Argentina were knocked out of the men's Olympic football tournament at Rio 2016 yesterday, he insists unequivocally there is no move in the pipeline to challenge Arsenal for the signing of Lyon frontman Alexandre Lacazette.
"I said we would add five players to the squad," he added. "We were expecting a few to come back from injury and it was planned to sign a left-back. We were lacking options there and we really wanted to do it. I spoke to the chairman and maybe we need one more player.
"Hundred per cent we will not go for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette. We will sign Argentine striker Calleri and he will be with us pretty soon depending on the work permit. He is a top striker and we have a good balance in the squad. We have a big couple of weeks in front of us with five big games."
West Ham's head of medical and sports science, Stijn Vandenbroucke, has also provided an update on the club's current injury situation ahead of the big kick-off. He confirms that both Ayew and Masuaku are ready to play, while Tore is expected to return to training today following a "significant trauma" to his knee. The trio of Cheikhou Kouyate, Pedro Obiang and Darren Randolph are all available after sustaining minor knocks against Domzale.
Lanzini, meanwhile, has now stopped wearing a brace to protect his knee injury and began running on Wednesday. Cresswell, who is expected to be sidelined for around four months, will relinquish his brace on Sunday.