Going into this season, Tomas Soucek was one of the few West Ham players with experience in European football and the Czech midfielder was desperate for his Hammers teammates to get a taste of the action.
Prior to his move to West Ham, Soucek was an experienced European campaigner during his time at Slavia Prague, with two seasons of Europa League football and one in the Champions League under his belt before the age of 24.
Soucek has played a part in all three of the Hammers’ Europa League games to date, starting two and coming on as a substitute in the other. Soucek went into the tournament with the same aim as manager David Moyes, to be in the competition after Christmas, an aim that is looking increasingly likely.
“I was hoping [last season] that we would enter the Europa League because a lot of guys don’t know what it’s like to play with foreign teams,” Soucek told Gol. “We have all prepared for it and we want to be successful not only in the Premier League, but in all the competitions we play.”
Despite their fabulous start to life in Europe, Soucek is adamant the club are not getting ahead of themselves with half of the group matches still to play.
“We are in the middle of matches in the group, we have three wins, but we have to keep going. We can go very far!” he added.
Soucek was speaking after West Ham’s fantastic 4-1 away win against Aston Villa, a win that saw Moyes’ team move level on points with third-placed Manchester City and just two behind their next opponents, Liverpool. A win over Jurgen Klopp’s team would see the Hammers leapfrog the Reds going into the international break but Soucek is not thinking past the clash with Genk for now.
“We managed the match at Aston Villa very well and everyone gave very good performances,” he said. “We have shown [good] form over recent weeks and I hope it will continue. The win helped us move forward in the Premier League table.
“We are a team that thinks match by match. This is important for us, and not just concentrating on big opponents. We will be thinking about Liverpool up to three days before the match [but] we still have a Europa League match in Genk, where we want to succeed and get closer to advancing from the group.”
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Soucek may be handed a rest by Moyes for the trip to Genk with an eye on Liverpool and the Czech captain confirmed his club and international teammate Alex Kral is ready to return to action after a Covid-19 enforced absence.
“Alex has also returned to the team, he normally trains with us. I believe that he will get back quickly and will be ready for the next matches in the club and in the national team,” Soucek said. “The ten-day quarantine was very unpleasant for him.”