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Sunday 18 November Updated Thursday 19 February

Moncur hails young Hammers

George Moncur has hailed the Development Squad's consistency as the main reason why they have taken the Barclay Under-21 Premier League by storm.

West Ham United's Under-21 side clinched a place in the post-Christmas Elite Group Stage by defeating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at Rush Green on Friday evening - their ninth victory in 12 Group 1 fixtures.

The midfielder has started all 12 matches, scoring one goal, and has played an influential role in a successful season so far for Ian Hendon's side. Concentrating on Friday's win, Moncur was proud to play a part in another hard-fought victory.

"It was one of those games that is not necessarily the most easy on the eye but the type that I love playing in," said the 19-year-old. "The important thing was to get the job done and we have done just that by qualifying for the Elite Group Stage."

Moncur is now relishing the opportunity to test himself against England's top Under-21 teams, including Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Liverpool.

"It is brilliant to qualify because it allows us to progress and play against a higher level of opposition after Christmas. That is no disrespect to the teams in the league we are in right now but we will be competing against the top clubs in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, which will be a great test for us."

Despite his relative youth, as a player with npower Football League experience on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season, Moncur has taken on a leadership role within the Development Squad. With scholars like Leo Chambers - currently sidelined with a thigh injury - Frazer Shaw and Sam Baxter all featuring this season, the midfielder is relishing the extra responsibility.

"You have to get the lads going sometimes and as a senior player I feel it is my responsibility to help do that. We have a very young team and sometimes you need to put an arm round the younger lads and help them out.

"The younger lads who have made the step up have done exceptionally well. Leo Chambers in particular has done really well for us. He is great to play with and despite only being 17-years-old he reads the game really well so he will be a big loss for us after Christmas and we wish him all the best in his recovery."

Many could forgive Moncur and his team-mates for relaxing in their final two Group 1 fixtures before the Christmas break, but he insists that will not be the case. The Development Squad travel to Norwich City on 26 November before rounding off the opening stage at home to Blackburn Rovers at Rush Green on 30 November.

"Even though we have qualified, we will not lose focus and we will go back into training as we always do and work hard.

"West Brom gave us a tough game and Norwich will be looking to get three points off us next week. We want to continue our form and hopefully we can get another win."

Stoke City

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