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West Ham set to announce £24m signing from Italy

Slaven Bilic hopes Simone Zaza will provide the answer to West Ham's goalscoring problems.

Zaza was part of Italy's Euro 2016 squad. Credit: PA

Italy striker Zaza is closing in on a £24m move to east London from Juventus as boss Bilic attempts to pep up his threadbare attack.

The Hammers have lost Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll to injury and were also without chief creators Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini as they crashed out of the Europa League to Astra Giurgiu on Thursday night.

But Zaza, 25, could hand West Ham a welcome boost ahead of Sunday's trip to early Premier League pacesetters Manchester City.

"I don't know the details, but we were in talks and it was quite close," said Hammers boss Bilic. "I would love it to happen."

It was left to rookie Argentinian forward Jonathan Calleri, then substitute Ashley Fletcher and, by the end, centre-half James Collins to try, and ultimately fail, to break down Astra as West Ham lost for the first time at the London Stadium.

Veteran former West Brom and Barnsley midfielder Filipe Teixeira took advantage of some poor defending on the stroke of half-time to secure a 1-0 win, and 2-1 aggregate victory, for a team currently 11th in Romania's Liga 1.

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Most important season in West Ham history - Noble

Mark Noble says this season was the most important in West Ham's club history Credit: PA

West Ham captain Mark Noble has stressed the club have had a "great season" no matter what as they wait to see if it ends with a place in Europe, and has labelled the 2015-16 campaign "the most important in club history."

Victory on Sunday at Stoke in their season-ending Premier League game would have guaranteed Europa League football for the Hammers next term at the Olympic Stadium.

But after going 1-0 ahead, Slaven Bilic's men ended up losing 2-1, finishing seventh in the table and requiring Manchester United to beat Crystal Palace in Saturday's FA Cup final to give them a place in the continental competition.

Noble says the result has to be looked at in the bigger picture of the season overall as they prepare to leave the Boleyn Ground behind.

We have to take this result in context and that is we've had a great season. We have come on a long way.

I've always said this season was probably the most important in the club's history.

Moving stadiums we had to make sure we were a solid Premier League team and we did that midway through the season. We had a small chance at Champions League which was great, and now we just have to wait and see what happens in the cup final.

– Mark Noble

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West Ham boss backs Antonio for England call

Bilic is full of praise for Michail Antonio. Credit: PA

Slaven Bilic says in-form West Ham winger Michail Antonio should be considered for an England call-up.

The 26-year-old has enjoyed a fine debut season in the Barclays Premier League after arriving at Upton Park from Nottingham Forest last summer.

With Danny Welbeck ruled out of Euro 2016 through injury, Bilic feels England manager Roy Hodgson could do worse than check out the Hammers wideman.

"He's quality, the way he is playing, the big impact that he's had on our game and also on the Premier League," said the West Ham boss.

"I'm saying as his club manager he's scored some goals, he's made some assists, he's defending really well.

"Of course Roy Hodgson has got a good team, he's not struggling for names. England qualified with 10 out of 10 wins so it's very hard for some players to break in - somebody has got to get injured or somebody has to lose a place in his club long term.

"But if you ask me does he have enough to offer? Yeah, definitely. He's a player who when he's one against one, he's got pace, he's got strength, he's got the quality of going up and down, he's dangerous on goal. He's a great player for us.

"So does he have potential? Definitely."

West Ham boss Bilic condemns 'sick' sacking of Flores

Bilic does not approve of Flores' sacking. Credit: PA

Watford's decision to replace head coach Quique Sanchez Flores is "sick", according to his West Ham counterpart Slaven Bilic.

The Hornets announced on Friday that their Spanish boss will leave Vicarage Road at the end of what on the face of it has been a successful season for a newly-promoted Premier League club.

They are destined for a mid-table finish and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, beating holders Arsenal along the way. Yet that does not appear to be enough for owner Gino Pozzo, who has made a decision which Bilic strongly condemned.

"It's crazy," he said. "I'm sorry for Quique. It's completely wrong, they've had a fantastic season.

"As far as I know if someone had offered Watford that...before the season everyone predicted they were likely candidates to go down. Yet they were never in danger and until January or February they were in the top eight, or top 10.

"Add to that they play good football, and add to that they were in the semi-final of the FA Cup, beating Arsenal away.

"They had a great season, the place was buzzing, it was a season to be proud of. It says it's more important how you finish than how you start but it is nonsense for me. People say it's common in Europe, it's common in England, but it's completely wrong, it's sick."

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