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Tuesday 19 March Updated Thursday 19 February

Ruddock back with a bang

Pelly Ruddock was all smiles after marking his return from injury in style, as he laid on the equaliser for the Development Squad in a 1-1 Barclays Under-21 Premier League Elite Group draw against Arsenal.

The former Boreham Wood youngster was forced to sit out the Hammers' away-days against Manchester United and Liverpool, but was seemingly back to his bustling best at the Boleyn Ground last Friday night, having been restored to his preferred midfield role.

With 32 minutes on the clock, the fleet-footed 19-year-old skipped to the by-line with the help of a step-over before whipping in a left-footed centre, prompting Nico Yennaris to put through his own net.

Ruddock rightly took the acclaim from his teammates and is hoping to have a similarly telling influence in the final third from here on in.    

"I've been trying the step over in training so I thought I'd try it in a match," he told West Ham TV. "I pulled it off and fortunately a goal came from that. It was good in front of the fans at the Boleyn Ground.

"The ball came over and I was there at the back post. I just did a little skill and crossed the ball in. I was expecting someone to get across the defender and then it went in off the defender, so I'm claiming that.

"I've not had so many assists but I need to get among them and help the team score more goals. Hopefully there will be more goals between now and the end of the season."

Despite his all-action display, Ruddock subsequently admitted feeling the pace against a fluent Arsenal side, though he expects it is only a matter of time before he is back at full throttle. Meanwhile, having played much of the campaign at centre-half, Ruddock embraced the relative freedom of a midfield berth.  

"Having trained only the day before the game, it was a hard match, they moved the ball about and kept the ball. It was hard and I got cramp, so it was a tough game.

"I'm feeling good and fit, but just need to work on my stamina a little bit and then hopefully press on.

"It was good in midfield. You get more of the ball and are able to drive at the defence and take some shots. I find you get about the pitch more, so I enjoyed it."

West Bromwich Albion

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