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Late Fornals return will surely give Pellegrini headache

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OPINION

As the first big-money signing of the summer, you can be sure that the West Ham faithful are desperate to see attacking maestro Pablo Fornals in the shirt sooner rather than later.

Those who have wanted to keep a close eye on him before pre-season kicks off will have been watching the Under-21 European Championships, the 23-year-old representing Spain at the summer competition, but his international commitments mean that he will not be in east London any time soon.

Football.London report that it is going to be over a month until the attacking midfielder turns out under Manuel Pellegrini, with a friendly scheduled away at on July 27 – a significant absence for the Chilean boss considering the Spanish ace is a new arrival at the club.

The real headache for Pellegrini will be trying to integrate him into the starting XI before their opening Premier League fixture against Manchester City on August 10, with just two fixtures, one more friendly reported in the works, and two weeks between what could be his first outing and the clash against the reigning champions.

Watching him on the training ground is one thing but getting him playing against real opposition in a match day scenario, when tactics, game management and on-field relationships come into play is a whole new kettle of fish.

With plenty of competition in the roles Fornals can operate in – Mark Noble, Declan Rice, Jack Wilshere and Pedro Obiang vying for a role in the middle and Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, and Michail Antonio his rivals in attack – the new man in will have 180 minutes of match time, if he plays the full 90 minutes in both, to stamp his mark on an actual match day.

Not having much of a chance to see how he slots into the West Ham starting XI will be a pain for Pellegrini and as such it could well be a gamble to throw him in against Manchester City in their season opener.

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