David Moyes is prepared to sacrifice the FA Cup to preserve West Ham’s Premier League status.
The Hammers travel to League One Shrewsbury on Sunday for their third-round tie, but face crunch matches against West Brom and Tottenham first.
And manager Moyes says he has no choice but to prioritise the relegation scrap, with West Ham floundering in the bottom three.
“Do I want to win the FA Cup? 100 per cent,” he said. “But I don’t think it can be so we damage our league season.
“And if we got through, our next two games are on a Tuesday against Crystal Palace and Brighton on the Saturday after the fourth round.
“If I could win the cup I would definitely try to win the cup, but I couldn’t do it if I thought it would affect the Premier League.”
Former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce angered fans in 2014 when he sent a team of youngsters to a third-round tie at Nottingham Forest which ended in a 5-0 defeat.
“I remember that,” Moyes added. “But do you not think, the position you are in now, the focus would only be on your Premier League status?
“Because if you’ve not got Premier League status and then you’re talking about winning the cup, you’ve still got to beat all the teams to get there.
“So it’s a difficult one. It’s not an easy one to say what would be the way.”
Moyes has urged Marko Arnautovic to bring his sparkling form into the new year.
The club’s £25million record signing has finally found his feet with five goals in six games after a slow start to life in east London.
“He was a big signing for the club and everybody expected big things from him as well,” Moyes said.
“He wasn’t a new recruit to the Premier League either, so you would have been hopeful that he could have hit the ground running.
“He’s done really well for us, he has helped the team greatly. His energy and effort has rubbed off on the supporters as well so he’s doing a good job for us.
“But it needs to be continued because we need him at the moment – he is the one who is really helping us so I hope his form continues.”