Academy Director Tony Carr MBE is expecting the Under-18s to face their toughest challenge of the season when they take on Manchester City on Saturday morning.

The Citizens have been the dominant force in the Barclays U18 Premier League North section this season, currently sitting in top spot with only five defeats from their 28 league fixtures.

Steve Potts' team have been flying high themselves in the South section where they are still in the hunt for a top-two spot and Carr believes Saturday's match represents a huge test.

"We're hoping to reverse the last couple of results and we're looking forward to going up to play Manchester City. They're the team of the moment in terms of youth and first team because of the profile they've got now and the backing behind them. They've won the northern league so it will be a big test for us.

"It will be as tough as any game that we've played this season. There's an U21 game on the Friday, which obviously takes players from the squad and makes life a little bit more difficult.

"We're hoping that the young players that we pick to go up there can go and do the job and we're really looking forward to the challenge."

The Hammers have hit a rough patch recently, losing their last three league matches having previously suffered only one defeat in their previous 17 league encounters.

That superb run has kept the U18s in second place as they look to secure a spot in the season ending Play-Offs, and Carr believed their dip in form is part and parcel of football.

"I think they're disappointed because obviously they were playing well. They can't win every game they play, that's just the way the game is.

"You can't win every game and the boys had been on a fantastic run and now that we've had a couple of setbacks we have to stay focused and put on a good performance at the weekend."

The promotion to the Development Squad of several U18 stalwarts in the shape of Josh Cullen, Kyle Knoyle, Reece Burke, Jordan Brown, Lewis Page and Jamie Harney has forced Potts to promote players from the Club's schoolboy section in order to fill the void.

Carr feels that those players who have come into the side need time to adapt to the step-up, but feels they will need to learn quickly as the season draws to a close.

"It's a massive learning curve with the pace of the game, the physicality and it's a big test which isn't just about your footballing ability.

"You have to be able to cope with all the other things that get thrown at you. Players have to be more tactically aware and there are lots of different challenges for a young player but it's a good experience for them.

"That can only be good for their development and for their learning, but in this day you have to learn quickly and you have to take opportunities when they come.

"When it comes you've got to be ready to take it. There's no sentiment in the game, you've got to be good enough, and that's the bottom line."

The 63-year-old also admitted he'll be looking for the squad to give their all when they take to the pitch against the Sky Blues.

"I'm not looking for a reaction that we wouldn't want in any other game. Give your all, be committed, go and enjoy it and let's see where it takes us."