West Ham United U18s manager Steve Potts was impressed with his side's hard work as they returned to pre-season by beating Leyton Orient 4-1 at the O's Chigwell training ground on Saturday.
The Hammers went behind early against the run of play, but were level soon after when young winger Jerry Amoo was released through the defence, holding off his marker to bury the ball into the far corner.
A second half that saw Potts name a full fresh eleven managed to dominate, with a header from Reece Burke and double from a trialist giving West Ham a deserved win. Potts was pleased with how his squad has returned to pre-season training.
"The boys have only been back for two weeks but you can already sense that they can't wait to get started," said Potts. "You've got to pull the reins on them sometimes but luckily we had enough players so we could give them 45 minutes each. It was a good run out for them.
"It opened up for us in the second half. We put them under a little bit of pressure and, when we won the ball back, we attacked at pace and got the rewards for it. At the start, it was a lot tighter. It was a hot day and, as the game went on, it opened up more for us."
This season marks the first full season for Potts managing the U18s and he has enjoyed helping the new batch of first-year scholars to settle into their surroundings, believing that his new recruits need to adjust and prepare for the hard work ahead.
"What you find with some of the first-year scholars is that they find it hard because of the full-time training and for some it is exactly what they need," he continued. "It is hard for them because, all of a sudden, it is a job for them from where they have come through the schoolboy ranks. It is enjoyable, but you have the added thing that it is a job now and it's serious stuff."
Saturday's game welcomed back young midfielder Josh Cullen into the squad after he missed the end of last season through injury, pleasing Potts.
"Josh is a very intelligent young player. What happened to him last season was very unfortunate as he had a bad knee injury, but he has come back raring to go and I'm happy for him."
Next month, Potts takes his young Hammers squad over to Belgium to take part in the Eurofoot Tournament and feels that, considering the European presence in English football these days, his team should benefit from facing continental opposition.
"I think the way that the Premier League is now with so many foreigners in it, that it is a wise thing to do to go and play in Europe and test yourselves.
"The boys are going to have to use their brains more out there, where they might face different styles and formations, but it will be interesting. It also mixes the pre-season up a bit because we get to take them away."
Potts confirmed that his main aim this season for the team is just to improve their performances on the pitch, but believes his players should be working hard individually to impress and earn a chance of moving up the ranks to the U21s.
"Collectively we are looking just to play well as a team but also individually you want the players to be pushing on for the Development Squad and then the first team, which is the ultimate goal.
"There are some good kids here and it's going to take a lot of hard work from their point of view. It's much more difficult to make it these days so they have to understand how much hard work it will take to get there.
"They can't stand still and think they've got to this level. They have to want more and that final bit is the hardest to get to the U21s or first team, but it's not impossible."
The U18s' next pre-season friendly is a trip to face Colchester United on Saturday 20 July, with kick-off at 11am.
*Nick Haycock's Development Squad begin their pre-season schedule by taking on Swansea City at Little Heath on Tuesday 16 July, with kick-off at 3pm. Admission and parking are both free of charge.
West Ham United U18 First-half XI: Nemrava, Knoyle, Girdlestone, Onaraise, Mavila, Amoo, Bywater, Marlow, Parfitt-Williams, T.Tombides, Brown
West Ham United U18 Second-half XI: Brown, Pike, Burke, Harney, Page, Cullen, Bailey, Makasi, Gogo, Martins, Trialist