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2013-10-18T10:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:44:39

Cullen ready for Canaries

West Ham United Under-18s will go for a fourth consecutive Barclays U18 Premier League victory when they welcome Norwich City to Little Heath on Saturday morning.

The Hammers have beaten Liverpool (5-0) at home before recording away wins at West Bromwich Albion (2-1) and Tottenham Hotspur (3-2) in recent weeks, with outstanding team performances being turned into nine points out of nine.

While free-scoring captain Kieran Bywater has taken the headlines, the successes have been based on fine all-round displays from Steve Potts' side - a sentiment echoed by vice-captain and midfielder Josh Cullen.

"We started the season with a great victory against Manchester United and then we had a little bit of a rocky patch results-wise," explained Cullen. "The performances were there but it was just a case of not killing the games off or conceding sloppy goals or penalties with silly mistakes.

"We knew if we cut them out that the run would come which we're on now. We started off with a fantastic 5-0 win over Liverpool and then we had two tough away games at West Brom and Tottenham and we've got over the line, which is what we're looking for.

"I definitely think the games we've lost were little bits going against us and we knew it would change sooner or later. Against Liverpool, our finishing was brilliant and we scored five goals. We'd been working on hitting the net in training because we knew that once we started scoring, we'd start winning matches.

"We had a little bit of luck at West Brom with a last-minute deflected free-kick which got us the three points, so it's changing and we just want to keep on performing and picking up three points and results to move us up the table."

Saturday sees West Ham welcome Norwich to Little Heath, with a number of the Canaries' squad having lifted the FA Youth Cup last season. As such, Cullen is expecting a testing 90 minutes.

"They are always tough games against Norwich, especially when you go away and play them up there. They are always well organised and will put up a good fight, so we know it's not going to be easy.

"We got a great result at Tottenham so now we need to come back to Little Heath and put in another good performance and, if we play as well as we know we can, getting a result shouldn't be a problem.

"They won the FA Youth Cup last year and a few of the boys involved in that will be playing, so they're going to believe they can do well. We need to stick with what we're doing and the result will come, which I'm sure it will."

The U18s have players performing well all over the pitch - attacking midfielder Bywater has nine goals in nine games, forwards Jordan Brown and Djair Parfitt-Williams are also scoring, while defenders Reece Burke and Kyle Knoyle recently made their debuts for England at U18 level and Jamie Harney turned out for Northern Ireland U19s in their recent UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign.

For former England U16 international Cullen, it has been a real team effort so far this term.

"From the start of the season everyone has been performing well and the team has been doing well. It's been a case of people chipping in with the goals, even if Kieran has got the majority of them. He's done great, but everyone has been chipping in and the performances have been good from all the lads.

"We want to keep moving on as a team. As long as the individual performances are there, then that will benefit the team."

Having seen Burke and Knoyle play for England and Harney for Northern Ireland, Cullen himself is eager to earn a recall to the England age-group squad.

"It's always a great achievement to be called up by your country, whatever age-group it is, but you've got to keep focusing on playing for your club. You can't get carried away and think about international football.

"If you keep performing well for your club, you're going to get noticed and that will come with it. If the international thing starts up again, that would be great, but at the minute it's about putting the performances in for West Ham."

While the Barclays U18 Premier League is the youth team's bread and butter, they also have another important role to perform at West Ham - imitating the first team's next opponents.

Cullen and company took pride in the Hammers' 3-0 win at Tottenham, as they had mimicked Andre Villas Boas' side in Sam Allardyce's training sessions in the lead-up to the match.

"We don't really get told to impersonate a particular player, but we get told the style of football we're expected to play. We were impersonating Tottenham, so we were told to keep a high line because we knew that is what they do and playing in behind could be our strength, and that is where Ricardo Vaz Te's goal came from the ball in behind from Mark Noble.

"I suppose we help them to get used to what they'll be up against and whether a team is going to be in their face or drop off and let us play. Then, when we've got the ball, we we get told to pass the ball or be a bit more direct and we try to carry that out as well as we can.

"It's all about the first team getting three points at the weekend, so that's all we're worried about really, trying to help them out to get the result. This week, we'll be Manchester City and it'll be tough trying to replicate Yaya Toure but we'll try to do our best and help the first team to get another good result!"

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