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2013-08-23T14:33:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:09:31

Potts primed for Chelsea test

Steve Potts has challenged his West Ham United youngsters to rise to the challenge again when they travel to Chelsea on Saturday.

The Hammers started their Barclays U18 Premier League season in sensational style by defeating Manchester United 2-1 at Little Heath last weekend.

Now, Potts and his players face another difficult encounter when they take on the FA Youth Cup runners-up at Cobham.


"I've said before what a good league this is and how it's going to test the boys," said the U18s manager. "You couldn't ask for a harder test than our start at home to Manchester United and away to Chelsea.

"I know it will be a real test. Chelsea are probably the benchmark in U18s football at the moment because of the money they have thrown at their Academy, especially at youth-team level, so it will be a good test for us.

"It hit home a couple of years ago when we went to play Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup and people were saying that their team cost £11m to put together and ours cost £20,000!

"I just think it will be a great test for our boys to see what they are all about and find the level they need to be at."

Reflecting on last weekend's 2-1 win over Manchester United, Potts was proud of his players' efforts in both attack and defence.

Lewis Page and Jerry Amoo put the Hammers two goals up, but the Red Devils put their hosts under intense pressure in the second half and set-up a nervy finish with a penalty just a few minutes from full-time.

"I just thought it was an all-round good team performance on top of all the individual stuff. The key to it was how well they played as a group.

"Unless you are like that, you are going to find it difficult and I couldn't ask for any more from that point of view.

"Manchester United at home didn't need any building up at all and the boys didn't surprise me with how well they reacted to playing against them. The only doubt is if they are going to play the name rather than the team, but they went about it the right way and their football came out.

"In the first half we were excellent. In the second half, Manchester United had a lot of the ball, but we defended well and the pleasing thing was that we thoroughly deserved the win, I thought."

While West Ham's Academy sides will always play good football, anyone who saw the U18s' victory over Manchester United will have also enjoyed the resilience and determination shown to maintain their advantage.

Potts said those same qualities will definitely be required at Chelsea, who started their own Barclays U18 Premier League campaign with a 3-0 win over Sunderland.

"We only conceded from a penalty towards the end and there was a bit of everything in the game. There was some good football played, some intelligent play with and without the ball and when it came to putting our bodies on the line, the nitty gritty and our defending, I thought we did that well too.

"I was pleased and the key now is not getting carried away with that one result. We're going to go all over the country this season and it's going to throw up all sorts of challenges for the boys, like long trips up north in the winter and different styles of football.

"On Saturday we'll be up against a footballing Chelsea team, that's for sure, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the boys react to it."

Watch out for live coverage of Saturday's trip to Chelsea on twitter @whufc_official from 11am.

You can watch highlights of all U18s and U21s matches, plus exclusive post-match reaction, on West Ham TV.


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