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2013-03-20T11:57:00 Updated 2015-02-19T01:05:48

Full-time training model hailed

West Ham United Under-15s manager Mark Phillips has hailed the club's new full-time training model.

Having been granted Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) Category One status, the Hammers accepted their first intake of full-time schoolboy players last summer, with the Year 10 students being taught and coached at the Academy's Rush Green base.

A partnership with Robert Clack School has led to the installation of classrooms at Rush Green, with teachers from the school providing for the players' educational needs.

The system's full-time training model allows the club's coaches to spend more time on the pitch with the players, with the hope that they will develop and improve at a faster and higher rate than they would have previously.

"Robert Clack have been fantastic and it's worked out well," Phillips confirmed. "From the start of the season until now, I have seen a marked improvement of the boys training every day on the full-time model - every one of them has improved over the last eight or nine months."

In August, the number of players on the full-time model will double as this season's Under-15s move up to Under-16s are joined by the next group of Under-15s.

"The more contact time we have with the players can only make them better players - that's what it's all about from a football side.

"The education side is taken care of by Robert Clack, who have a very good reputation in the area."


The Under-15s line-up with Canadian side Kleinburg Lions

The Academy also test their players by measuring them up against foreign touring sides. Recently, the Under-15s played host to Kleinburg Lions from Ontario, Canada. Manager Phillips was delighted to see his team achieve a 5-1 victory.

"Because we are on a full-time programme, we can accommodate touring teams and play against them on a weekday afternoon at our facilities at Rush Green," he confirmed.

"We have played quite a few visiting teams and sometimes they are from different age-groups to give us more of a test. Kleinburg were a Canadian regional side comprising Under-16 and Under-17 players and although we won the game 5-1, it was still a good physical test for us."

The Under-15s take on their counterparts from clubs such as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, but the matches are stand-alone fixtures rather than being part of a league set-up.

Phillips said the contrast in styles between the Hammers' various opponents helped the club's youngsters to improve and develop their own games.

"At their age, it's all about development and their learning curve, so we might play teams of Under-17 or Under-18 age-groups to give them a more physical encounter, or we might play against a team like Arsenal who bounce the ball about.

"It's all about developing their game so that hopefully, in five or six years, they are playing for the first team at Upton Park and have an all-round game.

"They will play against different styles and it's about us teaching them to play against the various different styles they will come up against."

West Bromwich Albion

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