Opinion from the stands

Will this regular starter lose his place this season?

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James Tomkins Newcastle United

Strength in depth is not something West Ham have been able to claim in defensive positions in recent seasons.

Significant injuries to the recognised centre halves over the past two years has meant wide players and midfielders being deployed at the heart of the defence.

Things even got so bad 18 months ago that Roger Johnson was called upon to ‘sure-up’ the back-line.

But with the signing of Angelo Ogbonna and the emergence of Reece Burke and Reece Oxford, there is suddenly competition for places.

With Winston Reid likely to start if fit, the leading options to partner him will be the Italian and James Tomkins.

Having been a centre back himself, Slaven Bilic will know what qualities he is looking for in his players, and he clearly likes what he sees in Ogbonna to pay the money to bring him in.

But both he and Tomkins have had mixed pre-seasons.

The new recruit has performed solidly without excelling, according to reports, while Tomkins has captained the team and scored in Europe, but has also been sent off for a show of frustration.

The key for Bilic will be which one will assimilate into his team quicker, and perform from the off in the Premier League.

With that in mind, Tomkins would probably be the more obvious pick.

The 26-year-old has played almost 200 games for the club, and has plenty of top flight experience.

As with the transition from the highly experienced goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to current number one Adrian, it was a matter of waiting for the right time.

The Spaniard first proved himself during cup games and in training, before taking his chance in the first team when it came against Chelsea.

Ogbonna may have to prove he is up for the fight and get some English games under his belt before getting a regular run in the team.

However, both players may in fact feature against Arsenal on August 9.

With Carl Jenkinson ineligible against his parent club, Tomkins could be asked to fill in at right-back ahead of Joey O’Brien, who often looks off the pace when he is drafted in.

This would give Ogbonna a chance to shine at centre back from the off, and stamp his name on the team sheet.

Either way, with the club’s history of injuries and the possible involvement in Europe, it is almost guaranteed both players will get plenty of game time throughout the course of the season.

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