West Ham United Academy director Tony Carr is eager for his side to secure a FA Premier Academy League win over Charlton Athletic on Saturday for more than one reason.
Not only is Carr keen to see his in-form Under-18 team secure a third straight victory after beating Southampton and Ipswich Town in their opening two matches of 2009, but he is also out for revenge after going down to a 2-1 defeat at the Addicks before Christmas.
"Looking at the Charlton game away prior to Christmas it was a disappointing performance from us on that day so, if nothing else, we want to try and improve that performance against the same team and keep our run going after two wins following our Christmas break. We are looking forward to it in different ways. First, we want to get our third victory on the spin and second, we want to put that performance to rest when we didn't perform anywhere near our normal level."
"It was a terrific performance against a good team [at Ipswich]. We thoroughly deserved to win and, at the same time, we played very well so we want both of those to continue for as long as we can."
Carr's youngsters overcame the absence of striker Balint Bajner and defenders Tony Brookes and Filip Modelski through injury and the sending off of Christian Montano to register a fine 3-0 win at Ipswich last Saturday, and the coach will have an under-strength squad to call upon again for this weekend's fixture at Little Heath. Montano is expected to be available as his suspension for being red carded at Ipswich has yet to start.
"We have got a couple of injury concerns. Daniel Kearns is not sure if he's going to be fit. We'll do a fitness test on him before the game. Balint Bajner is not quite fit and Tony Brookes is not fit so we're looking like we'll go with the same squad against Ipswich last week."
Carr has also urged his players to rise to the challenge as many of them enter their final few months as Academy professionals. A number of the teenagers took part in a reserve team friendly against an experienced Ipswich Town side on Wednesday, and Carr said that their performances in games such as that would help him and his coaches to decide on their long-term futures.
"I think most of my lads played half-a-game and we want to get them exposed to reserve team-type football as much as we can between now and the end of the season because we've got to make decisions on whether we're going to keep them next season or not."
Kick-off at Little Heath on Saturday is at 11am. Admission is free.