LONDON (Reuters) - West Ham United will continue to battle for European football next season despite sitting 17th in the Premier League, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Thursday.
West Ham were fifth in the standings in September before a winless run of seven games, including five defeats. The London side are three points above the relegation zone but only five points behind sixth-placed Sheffield United.
“I came here to try to make a step with this club, to try to fight for a European spot. That is my mentality and we continue with that mentality,” Pellegrini, who took charge in 2018, told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game at Chelsea.
“We had some very good moments last season, we finished the season very well with 10 points from 12, and we started this season very well. So you are always optimistic that you can improve.
“We are not winning in this moment, so we must try to recover our performance and always have a winning and ambitious mentality. With three points more, maybe we are in seventh position in the table.”
West Ham’s slide down the standings has coincided with the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who has been sidelined since September with a hip injury.
The Poland international is expected to return late next month and West Ham have not kept a clean sheet ever since while backup goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez has failed to impress, making a number of mistakes to concede goals.
“The diagnosis of Fabianski is clear, after you have surgery, you need some amount of time to recover,” Pellegrini said.
“We will see what the doctors say - the first date that was around was about Christmas, but we cannot give you an exact date.”
Pellegrini confirmed midfielders Jack Wilshere and Manuel Lanzini remain unavailable due to injury while defender Winston Reid returned to action with the club’s Under-23 side.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond