Yarmolenko boosts Irons’ options

West Ham are confident that they have added a quality, versatile attacking option by signing Ukraine international Andriy Yarmolenko from Borussia Dortmund.

The 28-year-old Ukraine international has signed a four-year contract with the Hammers, having ended his stay with BVB after just a single campaign which saw him score six goals in 26 appearances in all competitions.

And Irons director of football Mario Husillos believes that a change of scenery will help Yarmolenko rediscover the sort of form which saw him score 137 times in 341 games for Dynamo Kyiv.

He told the club's official website: "When we had the opportunity to sign him, we did not hesitate, because he really is the kind of player that we were looking for.

"He is a left-footed player who can play on the right and is very quick, very good one-on-one against a defender.

"He gives the team a lot of attacking options and scores goals, is fast on the counter-attack and provides aerial threat with his height.

"At Dortmund, he had some good matches but perhaps didn't quite show his very best. However, I think Manuel Pellegrini is the perfect coach for Andriy and his style of play."

The arrival of Yarmolenko comes a couple of days after the Hammers completed the signing of England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who opted against signing a new contract at Arsenal.

The Irons are priced at 9/4 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table next season and are available at 4/11 to end up in the bottom half.

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Hallgrimsson hails Iceland success

Iceland head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson was a happy man after seeing his side continue their rise by qualifying for the World Cup finals next summer.

A 2-0 victory at home to Kosovo was enough to secure top spot in qualifying Group I, as the Euro 2016 quarter-finalists saw off the challenges of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey to seal automatic qualification for Russia.

And Hallgrimsson hailed the efforts of his players, who he was worried would find it difficult to build on their success just over a year ago.

He told reporters: "The first beer after a party is not the best. The hardest thing was to get going again after our massive party in France.

"And what's more we are in a group contested between Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and Finland, who are much better than their position in the group would have you believe.

"The success is not an end in itself, but a long journey towards a final destination."

Hallgrimsson also admitted that qualifying was made all the sweeter for having finished ahead of Croatia, who defeated Iceland in a World Cup qualifying play-off in 2014.

He added: "After we lost against Croatia we aimed at qualifying next time.

"In my opinion we were in the most difficult group, but we decided that we were just going to finish this. We had no interest in some sort of play-off bother."

Iceland are now available at 150/1 to win the World Cup next summer, while they are priced at 150/1 to triumph at Euro 2020.

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O’Neill expects to surprise

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill believes his side have 'everything to gain' at the European Championship finals next summer.

O'Neill's men have been drawn alongside Poland, Ukraine and Germany in Group C for the tournament in France and the Irish tactician believes that two factors could help his side make an impact.

He thinks his team may be under-estimated by some of their opponents, while he is also happy to be taking on World Cup holders Germany in their final group game, following clashes with Poland and then Ukraine.

He told BBC Sport: "There are a lot of positives we take into the tournament. We actually won our group, we didn't come through a play-off, people overlook that, and we go into this tournament with everything to gain.

"The most important thing is to try and take something from your first game. The fixtures maybe work in our favour, playing Poland and Ukraine before Germany, which might be the most demanding physically.

"I've not seen a lot of Ukraine, I know Poland and Germany a bit more of course. But we will do a lot of analysis so that in June we will be ready to play."

Northern Ireland can be backed at 5/2 to qualify from Group C, with Poland available at 3/10 and Ukraine 1/2.

They have never previously qualified for the European Championship finals, with their last World Cup finals appearance coming back in 1986.

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