West Ham United Under-18s manager Steve Potts is expecting a tough match on Saturday when his team welcome Aston Villa to Little Heath (1pm kick-off).

The ex-Hammers defender believes the third place Villans will provide the sternest test yet for his charges in their Barclays Under-18 Premier League campaign.

Potts' team are on a six match unbeaten run which has seen them move into sixth place in the table but he believes their resilience will be put to the test this weekend.

He told West Ham TV: "I get clips of the opposition the week before we play each team and from the clips I've seen so far of Aston Villa, they look like the best team I've seen - I think it will be a real test for us come Saturday.

"Every game we're being tested in different ways, on Saturday I do think Aston Villa are a very good all-round team so that will be a real test for us whether we're playing home or away."

If Potts' team keep up their fine defensive work then all three points may well be within their grasp against Villa.

The Hammers boast the second best defensive record in the league, a fact which is pleasing for a man who made 505 appearances at the back for West Ham United.

"I often think that the forwards get all the headlines but the defenders have to do the nitty gritty side of the game.

"You can enjoy your defending that's for sure. You can enjoy getting a clean sheet or getting good tackles in but I think when you talk about a defensive record it's a group thing not just the defenders.

"Everyone has to play a role now, even the forwards because gone are the days when you could have luxury players who don't defend. You look at all the top teams now and I think everyone puts a shift in and that's the way the game's gone."

The 46-year-old has seen several of his squad make their bow for the Development Squad in recent times with Reece Burke, Moses Makasi, Amos Nasha and Josh Cullen all appearing in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League draw against Chelsea.

Burke played the full 90 minutes in that match, turning in a strong performance alongside Pelly Ruddock at the heart of the defence and Potts believes his performance was testament to his development.

"He's really come on over the last couple of years. With Reece he's got a fantastic attitude, he wants to learn and I've never had a problem with him training wise.

"He's always on his game giving 100 per cent in training and takes that into matches. He's the sort of kid that deserves to do well because of that."

Potts also explained he is a happy man when any of his side make the step-up to the Under-21s.

"That's why we're here, to try and push the boys on as much as we can. When you have an involvement with the boys on a day-to-day basis and then they do get pushed up higher you're keen to see how they cope with it and I think they've done ok with that so far."

You can head down to Little Heath on Saturday to see the Under-18s in action against Aston Villa, the game kicks off at 1pm.