Slavan Bilic
Bilic's side are in the Europa League but the testing schedule of the competition won't help their Premier League preparations Getty

West Ham United will begin their Premier League campaign against Arsenal just three days after a Europa League tie in Romania.

Slavan Bilic's side narrowly avoided a humiliating early exit from their European campaign after scraping past Maltese minnows Birkirkara on penalties after a 1-1 aggregate draw.

James Tomkins scored the only goal in the first leg of the second round qualifying match at Upton Park on 16 July but former Palermo legend Fabrizio Miccoli levelled the contest after just 14 minutes in yesterday's return leg.

A 5-3 win on penalties ensured the Hammers progressed to the third round of the qualifying stage but it led them into a clash with Romanians Astra Giurgiu.

The Hammers play host in the first leg of the tie, to be held 30 July, but must fly out to Bucharest before travelling south to Giurgiu for the return leg on 6 August.

With a flight time of over three hours from London to the Romanian capital, the trip is hardly the ideal preparation for Bilic and his side, who begin their season with a clash at the Emirates at 1.30pmon Sunday 9 August.

The unforgiving schedule of the Europa League has traditionally taken its toll on Premier League sides who to struggle to find a balance between it and domestic matters. But Bilic, who was named Sam Allardyce's successor at the end of last season, has so far shown the competition due respect.

While the club's first round qualifier against Andorran side Lusitanos was notable by the presence of youngsters such as Reece Oxford, Elliot Lee and Lewis Page across both legs, the Hammers opted for a more experienced XI in their ties against Birkirkara.

Astra Giurgiu overcame Scottish Premiership side Inverness CT in their second round play-off match, securing a 1-0 win over two legs.