enthusiastic Moyes has admitted that he is concerned Western Ham‘s busy schedule may hinder their hopes of survival, saying he may need to prioritize the Premier League about a push for European glory if his side doesn’t move away from danger soon.
The Hammers go into Saturday’s crucial meeting with Southampton in 18th place, within the relegation zone on goal difference but with at least one game to play against each of their rivals.
In addition to the twelve remaining games to salvage their domestic season, Moyes’ men are also through to the quarter-finals of the Europe Conference Leaguewhere they compete against Ghent.
Should the Irons beat the Belgian side and reach the semi-finals, they would play every weekend and midweek between now and the penultimate day of the League season on May 20.
Just four points separate the bottom nine teams in what is currently the tightest relegation battle in Premier League history, but West Ham are the only member of that group also juggling European commitments.
“It’s certainly a concern,” Moyes said. “But I’ll tell you something: I wouldn’t take half the position I’m in, in a quarter-final of European competition. But I wouldn’t kid myself. Premier league football is the most important.
“The truth is it could have an effect on it because the Premier League is vital for us and we will have to try and work our way through that and the European games.”
Moyes tends to rotate his team in Europe so far this season, with the Irons quickly exiting the group with a perfect six wins from six and then making light work of little-known Cypriot side AEK Larnaca in the final 16.
The Scot says he is keen to field his strongest XI as the competition draws to a close, but is cautious about overworking his players, having seen the effects first hand during last year’s run-in.
The Hammers reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, taking showpieces over Sevilla and Lyon before losing to Eintracht Frankfurt, but their home form slumped significantly and the club ultimately missed out on a top-six finish on the final day of the competition . The season.
“There’s a concern because we’ve put ourselves in such a good position and been so strong in Europe,” Moyes continued. “We were able to change the team in Europe and that worked very well for us. [But] At this time last year, when we played against Sevilla and Frankfurt, we needed our best teams to win.
“I hope we can pick up some quick wins that will allow us to go into European competitions stronger than we have had in the past.
“But if not, the team we’ve played against in Europe has done a fantastic job, however we’ve gone about it, as we’ve usually done in recent seasons.”