Kieran Bywater believes West Ham United U18s have nothing to fear from Tuesday's FA Youth Cup fourth-round meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at the Boleyn Ground.

First-year scholar Bywater and many of his team-mates will be making their first apearance at the home of the Hammers, but the 17-year-old believes Steve Potts' side will rise to the occasion.

The attacking midfielder caught the eye in West Ham's 3-1 victory at Aldershot Town in the third round in December. Now, he is eyeing a bigger scalp in the shape of the north London giants.


"I'm looking forward to it," said the teenager, who has started 14 of the youth team's 16 matches in all competitions so far this season. "Obviously it will be the first game at Upton Park for a lot of the lads but we did well in the first FA Youth Cup game, so everyone is really looking forward to it.

"Everyone was worrying about the weather and whether the game would be on or not, but it's been given the all-clear so we're all concentrating on it. We didn't have a game at the weekend because our match at Stoke City was postponed, so everyone is feeling fresh. We've been training over Christmas so everyone is fit and raring to go."

Bywater was one of a number of regular starters who missed the 1-0 Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One Stage victory over Spurs on 12 January and the player agrees with manager Steve Potts that the first game will have no bearing on Tuesday's tie. 

"Everyone is confident, but obviously both teams have changed quite a lot with a few second-year scholars and the likes of myself coming into the starting line-up. We cannot take too much from that result - we've just got to concentrate on this game."

Bywater and his young colleagues will be cheered on by hundreds of friends and family members, with a bumper four-figure crowd expected at the Boleyn Ground for what promises to be a keenly-contested tie.

"Hopefully there will be a good turnout. We're all looking forward to playing at Upton Park with a nice crowd in there, so it will be good.

"The way we play, we'll want to play football and get the ball down and I think the big pitch will suit us. Tottenham like to play football as well, but hopefully we can come out on top.

Both clubs are chasing a fourth FA Youth Cup title, with West Ham's last success coming in 1999 and Tottenham's most-recent win coming in 1990.

Admission on Tuesday evening will be charged at £3 Adults and £1 Concessions. The Stadium Superstore will also be open late to enable you to wrap up your claret and blue hats and scarves on what promises to be a cold evening at the Boleyn Ground!

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