West Ham United U16s will travel to Florida for the GIS Cup tournament at the weekend.

The squad will fly to Jacksonville on Wednesday ahead of the four-team competition, which will be held in the city of Palm Coast between Friday 11 and Sunday 13 October.

The young Hammers, who will include recent England U16 caps Reece Oxford and Ben Sheaf (pictured) in their travelling party, will take on local side PDA Florida on Friday, North Carolina-based Premier UK Soccer on Saturday and Georgia-based Darlington School Soccer Academy on Sunday.

The squad will be led by assistant Academy director Paul Heffer and U16s manager Trevor Bumstead, with the former talking up the benefits of gaining invaluable international experience.

The trip to Florida comes two months into the U16s' second season working in partnership with The Robert Clack School, with players being taught and trained on a daily basis at the recently-renovated Rush Green.

"The Under-16s are working hard every day, now we have them out of school and working at Rush Green, where they can do extra work in the gym and on the pitch," Heffer explained. "Everything is better down at Rush Green now and it gives us an advantage having them with us every day.

"It is also an advantage in that we can play more games and welcome other teams down to Rush Green throughout the year. it will benefit us all the year round.

"There is no league until the U18s, but so far performances this season have been good. We always judge this on how many players move up to the next level or are named in England squads, so we've done well with our younger squads getting Reece and Ben in, while a couple more have been on trial with Scotland and Ireland. That's a good measure of how we're going.

"We're going to Jacksonville to play three games in the GIS Cup and hopefully we'll do well out there. We do a lot of international stuff now as part of the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan), where we travel or bring teams in to play us at Rush Green.

"It's about the experience. The boys will have to get used to travelling away and being in the hotel away from their families for a few days. We can tell who might come through by the way they are professionally and how they put a performance together. We'll see how we fare."

Two players who recently went away with England U16s were Oxford and Sheaf, both of whom featured as England opened their Victory Shield campaign with a 1-0 win over Wales in Kidderminster.

"I thought Reece and Ben both did well in the game. There were no problems, Reece did very well at the back and Ben did very well in midfield.

"It is something they have got to get used to, playing under pressure in a stadium and in a televised game. Playing in the Victory Shield gives them an idea of that pressure."

As a former Academy graduate himself, Heffer takes pride every time a player takes the next step in their development. With the Club gaining EPPP Category One status, the experienced coach believes West Ham now have the best possible opportunity to continue producing outstanding young players.

"It's one of the things that gives you a lift, when you get the boys who you have worked with since they were seven or eight and they get into the first team. That is what we're here for. Results don't matter - it's about putting boys in the first team.

"The test was whether or not we would go down the road of trying to get Category One status and the Club backed us all the way. The amount of staff and facilities we have got now and the fact we can work with players on a daily basis and take them away on trips proves we're looking to bring boys through, which has always been the West Ham way.

"Rush Green has been different because we've now come away from being based at Chadwell Heath and we have our own centre, where we train, teach and feed the boys and have our own meetings.

"It's worked well because the first team need their room at Chadwell Heath. It's nice for us to have our own base and we can get on with doing what we want to do, which is producing players."