First-year scholar Ben Marlow insists West Ham United are brimming with confidence, as they plot to topple Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One leaders Sunderland at Little Heath on Saturday.

After six winless outings, Steve Potts' side are now firmly back on the victory march, courtesy of convincing 3-1 wins over both Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.

Back-to-back successes have propelled the Hammers to within just six points of table-topping Sunderland and 17-year-old midfielder Marlow is planning on closing the gap yet further come the weekend.

"Everyone's sky high with confidence, we've been training well over the last couple of weeks and we're taking it into the games," he told West Ham TV. "We had a great 3-1 win at West Brom on Tuesday afternoon, against a strong side as well, so it was good to get the three points and make it two on the bounce.

"We played them at the start of the year and lost 2-0 against that side. We've got a young side because players are pushing up to the Development Squad, so it was a good 3-1 win and we're all very pleased.

"Hopefully we can make it three against Sunderland on Saturday, because they are top of the league. We're moving up the table at the moment and we're certainly looking to carry that on. We're only six points off the top and hopefully we can push on and maybe make the top two or top three. You never know."

As for the visit of Sunderland, Marlow's involvement with the Development Squad means the young Mackems are something of an unknown quantity to the teenager. That said, with them being top of the league, Marlow reckons he hardly needs know any more.

"I didn't play in the first game against Sunderland because I was involved in one of the Development Squad games," he added. "But they're top of the table, so they must be a decent outfit and it should be a good game and certainly one that I'm looking forward to.

"It's a great challenge, because of course you want to be playing the best teams in our league. Sunderland are clearly one of them, so everyone's up for it."

Such is Marlow's ability, the midfield man has been flitting between the U21s and the U18s thus far this term. And while he was only too glad to get a taste of life in the Hammers' second string, Marlow reckons that game time is every bit as important at this level.

"It has been a great experience travelling with the Development Squad and being involved. But equally it's nice to get 90 minutes under my belt with the 18s and hopefully I can keep pushing on and be involved in the U21s even more. As a first-year scholar playing against top players is great and I'm hoping to just can carry it on and keep playing well.

"I think I've been doing alright, I'm confident at the moment and I just want to take that into my game and keep playing well on a consistent basis and hopefully I can continue to do that."

Kick-off at Little Heath on Saturday is set for 11am, with admission and parking both free of charge.  

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