Joey eyes 'special' European nights

Joey O'Brien has already experienced European football during his Bolton days and now cannot wait for more of the same with the Hammers

Joey O’Brien is looking forward to a return to European football this week – seven years after he last experienced continental competition with Bolton Wanderers.

West Ham United take on FC Lusitans of Andorra in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League first qualifying round first leg at the Boleyn Ground with O’Brien looking to use the competition as a springboard towards a better season.

The form of Carl Jenkinson last season restricted the Irishman to just nine Barclays Premier League appearances in 2014/15, but with the action starting so early this time around, the Irishman hopes to hit the ground running.

He said: “It’s an early start for the early stages of European competition and the aim is to get into the Europa League proper and have some great nights throughout the season around Europe.

“Those European games with Bolton were some of my best memories of playing. I remember playing in some great places like Marseille, Sporting Lisbon, Atletico Madrid – teams you don’t come up against every season. You have to get through these first few games, which will be the hardest at the start of pre-season trying to get the match sharpness back. They’re hard games, but hopefully we can get off to a good start with a good win on Thursday.”

Those European games with Bolton were some of my best memories of playing

With close to 25,000 tickets already sold for Thursday’s season opener, a special night is in the offing at the Boleyn Ground.

“It will be a great night,” O’Brien continued. “It’s the start of a new season, the start of a European campaign and hopefully it’s going to be a long European campaign. We want it to be the first game of many.

“I’m going into my fifth season at West Ham now and the first three were positive ones for me personally. Last year was a hard one not playing games, because when you’re not playing you don’t really feel involved. This is a new start to the season and hopefully I’ll be involved in the first competitive match and play more than I did last year.”

Tickets are on General Sale for the visit of FC Lusitans, priced at just £10 adults and £5 under-16s. Buy your ticket now by clicking here!