West Ham United will seek to improve their chances of a top-half Barclays U21 Premier League finish when they host Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

The Hammers welcome Blackburn to Rush Green for a 2pm kick-off on Friday knowing that three points will all but ensure they end the regular season in the top eleven - meaning they will be in the top division when the league splits in two for the 2014/15 campaign.

Development Squad manager Nick Haycock has challenged his squad - which will again include England midfielder Joe Cole - to rise to the occasion and chalk up their tenth win in 20 matches.

"We need to win at least one of our two remaining matches to get a top-eleven finish, because it would be disappointing to miss out on that having been up there near the top of the table for the majority of the season," Haycock confirmed.

"We will again have young players being given their opportunity on Friday, which can lead to more inconsistent performances, but they have shown that they have the talent and ability to win matches at this level.

"We will go into the game with a positive approach, as we always do, and if we can play the way we did in the first half at Bolton and take our chances, we can win the game. The lads are certainly upbeat about their chances.

"They have the chance on Friday to get the three points and to establish themselves in the top half of the table - a position their performances throughout the season have warranted."

Haycock says the presence of Cole in the starting XI will again serve to inspire the young professionals and scholars involved against Blackburn.

"We will have a similar squad to Monday, which means Joe will again be involved to get him some more valuable minutes on the pitch. He will give us the experience that is needed to help the younger players to achieve the victory that we need."

Kick-off at Rush Green is at 2pm on Friday, with admission priced at £3 Adults and £1 Concessions. Parking is free of charge.

The Development Squad complete their 2013/14 season slate of Barclays U21 Premier League fixtures when they travel to Sunderland on Thursday 17 April.

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