Jordan Spence is still confident of a top-three Barclays Under-21 Premier League Elite Group finish, as the Development Squad prepare to entertain Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground on Friday night (7pm kick-off).
With Tottenham Hotspur some seven points ahead of the pack, the race is very much on for second and third, with the top three clubs progressing to the competition's semi-finals.
As it stands, West Ham United lie fifth, three points behind second-placed Liverpool and despite successive setbacks in recent weeks, Spence is adamant that nothing other than a top-three finish will do.
"We've spoken about this as a group and we want to finish in the top three," he told West Ham TV. "We've played everyone now barring Manchester United and Liverpool. We know the ability that's in the dressing room and of those who are coming back from loans. We might lose some, hopefully some will play in the first team. But we know that as a football club we've got strength in depth. We've got to finish in the top three."
The 22-year-old acknowledged defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers was hardly ideal preparation for the visit of Manchester United but is now determined to ensure there is no repeat performance on Friday. Spence played his part in an assured defensive display at AFC Telford United's ground and, but for a late mishap, would have departed with at least a point.
"It's a good fixture [against Manchester United]. We said that we weren't going to get too far ahead of ourselves. We wanted to get the points at Wolves and then move onto Friday. Now that we've put this one to bed we'll look forward to Friday. We're all set for Manchester United.
"All the way through the football club we pride ourselves on being solid, being well organised and I know from the first team, the gaffer works on that a lot, as does Nick with the Development Squad. So, it's important and again we stood up to the test and obviously the second goal was unfortunate that it was a lapse. We move on and hopefully learn our lessons.
"It's the first thing I said once the game finished, 'let's not let this happen again.' This is Development Squad football so it's about development but it's also about results. The next level up from here is our first team. And you know that if that had been a first-team game, that's not on, you're not allowed to do that. So we'll make sure that we learn our lesson quickly."
Entry for Friday night's 7pm kick-off is free for Season Ticket Holders, while all other adult tickets are just £3 and under-16s £1. The Stadium Store will also be open to supporters up until kick-off.