West Ham United Under-18's get the 2008/09 FA Premier Academy League campaign under way with the visit of Manchester United on Saturday morning.
Tony Carr's side will welcome the high-profile opposition to Little Heath hoping this new campaign will match the achievements of last season when the team produced some good performances and saw a number of players make the step up to reserve and even first-team level. While the likes of Marek Stech and Freddie Sears are still eligible to play if selected, a number of younger prospects have made the step up from the U16s.
The game will be one of the club's inter-group matches this season, outside of their normal Group A opponents who they play on a home and away basis. Carr said: "Regardless of who we are playing it is just nice after six weeks of pre-season training, playing friendlies, using lots of players and experimenting with formations to get the league programme going. As it is Manchester United it does give it that little bit of extra spice and makes it that little bit more difficult of course but certainly everyone is looking forward to it."
"The local south-east clubs we play on a regular basis but to play Manchester United and Leeds United in our first two games is not something we normally do - unless we draw them in the FA Youth Cup - and we are looking forward to it. Everything has gone well in pre-season. It looks as if we have got a clean bill of health for this weekend and I have got a fit squad to choose from. Hopefully we will rise to the occasion and put on a good performance."