Europa League: West Ham bank on Bowen to turn tables on Bayer Leverkusen

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen is forced off with an injury during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United at Molineux on April 6, 2024 in Wolverhampton, England.

Jarrod Bowen looks set to win his fitness battle ahead of West Ham’s quest for a Europa League comeback against newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers’ top scorer missed their 2-0 quarter-final first-leg defeat in Germany, and was also absent for Sunday’s dismal Premier League loss at home to Fulham, with a hip injury.

But Bowen, who has 19 goals this season, returned to training on Wednesday and hopes are high that he will be available against Leverkusen.

Manager David Moyes said: “It was great to see Jarrod out there. We’re not sure yet. I would never risk a player if I thought they were injured but you always want your best players back in, your goalscorers as well, and Jarrod has been that this season.”

The news is a major boost for the Hammers as they seek to inflict a first defeat of the season on Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen.

However, the hosts will be without key Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta through suspension after he was booked in the defeat in Germany.

“Most people know exactly what Jarrod has done for us over the season and others. It would give us and the crowd a real lift,” Moyes said.

“We’ve lost Lucas through suspension, and had Jarrod out through injury. We have to find ways of making magic happen.”

First-choice left-back Emerson Palmieiri is also suspended while centre-half Konstantinos Mavropanos is a doubt.

Leverkusen clinched a first-ever league title when they beat Werder Bremen 5-0 on Sunday sparking wild scenes at the BayArena, and Moyes hopes the celebrations went on long into the night – and might just affect them in this, their first match since.

“Rightly so, why would you not celebrate?” said Moyes. “To be the champions, you should celebrate, you should enjoy it because the moments go very quickly."

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who turns 39 on Thursday, hopes West Ham can lean on their past experiences of making unlikely comebacks.

Fabianski was in a Hammers team who were 3-0 down at Tottenham with 10 minutes to go in 2020, and stormed back to draw 3-3.

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“I think the confidence that we can take is from the experiences in recent years, games where we have been down and come back,” the former Poland international said.

“The Spurs game is one of the best examples, being 3-0 down and to score three in 10-15 minutes.

“We’ve experienced some great moments as a team in recent history and that will help us prepare mentally for (Thursday’s) game.”

Hours after sealing Leverkusen's maiden title win, coach Alonso told thousands of delirious fans "we want more", laying down a marker in pursuit of a remarkable treble. With the league in the bag, they also face second division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final next month.

"We want more. We want the (German) Cup, we want Europa League," the 42-year-old said over the stadium PA to thousands of Leverkusen fans after his side 43rd straight match without defeat.

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