The Development Squad get their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign underway on Monday evening when Aston Villa visit Rush Green Stadium.

Nick Haycock's side are embarking on a 21-game season and for 19-year-old foward Dylan Tombides the competitive nature of the league offers a perfect chance to progress.

The Hammers enjoyed a productive season at this level last year, qualifying for the Elite Group stage, and although a change of format this year means the competition will be played in a more conventional straight league set-up, Haycock's men are on the lookout for more success.

Tombides notched in the Hammers' last warm-up fixture - a 4-2 victory at AFC Hornchurch - and after missing out on regular football as he battled testicular cancer over the last two years, the Australian is keen to make up for lost time.

He told West Ham TV: "It's massive. It's a big relief to be back playing again, even just to be play more than ten minutes. That's all I could manage last year with the way everything was going. So it's fantastic to be back, to start and to get a goal [against Hornchurch].

"It was more of a relief than satisfaction to finally, after two years of battling, get a goal. To celebrate with the lads is more than enough for me. Hopefully there'll be more, fingers crossed.

"They put me out on the left wing in the last game, for more of a fitness test. I haven't played much for two years, so it was just to see how much I could get up and down. To be fair, from looking at my stats, I've done alright.

"It's up to the coach, [where I play]. I'd like to play off Paul McCallum or someone like that, as I like to play in the hole there with someone to work off. But once again it's the coach's decision and I'm just happy to be playing again more than anything.

"It's back to basics really, and back to normal for me now. I train whenever the boys are in, do what comes best and obviously hopefully get a chance up with the first team.

"Everyone has been really, really good for me over the last two years, supporting me and so it was lovely to repay them with a goal."

See if Dylan can add to his goalscoring tally as the U21s start their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign against Aston Villa at Rush Green on Monday. Kick-off is at 7pm and admission is free for Season Ticket Holders, £3 for Adults and £1 Concessions.

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