David Moyes has challenged his West Ham players to prove they are stayers in the race for the Champions League.

The unfancied Hammers have come up on the rails to challenge the Premier League’s thoroughbreds this season, and a win over Leeds on Monday will keep them firmly in the hunt heading into the home straight.

Boss Moyes said: “I have to say we are big outsiders for the Champions League because there are lots of teams there.

“But if you watch the racing at Cheltenham quite often the outsiders come good, so I am hoping we are one of those big outsiders and we can shock a few.

“I don’t think we are kidding anybody on when we are in a position to be in that place, but with the resilience, the commitment, the determination the players have shown nothing would surprise me with them, it really wouldn’t.

“At the start, if you’d have given me top 10 I would have said, ‘thank you very much’, it would be a good season for West Ham and it would show that progress had been made.

“We don’t want to lose the fact that making progress is important. The position we are in at the moment is an incredible position to be in and I hope we can stay in it and we will do everything we can to stay there.

“We are going to try. I can’t promise the fans that it is on, but I can tell them that we will try and do what we can.

“There is always a first for everything. We have been breaking a few firsts this year and I hope that we are able to do everything we can and challenge the top teams.”

Central to their hopes will be Jesse Lingard, who has been a revelation since joining on loan from Manchester United on deadline day.

The former England winger had barely played for a year but his performances have already seen him nominated for the player of the month award for February.

“It is great that he has had such an impact,” added Moyes. “With all the talk and speculation around players who come and go in January, to get someone in who makes a difference is not an easy thing to do.”