Youth Cup Dreams

ON Wednesday evening Hammers Under-18s take on Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park in the FA Youth Cup Fourth Round, hoping to repeat the Club's victory in the competition back in May 1999.

Here, members of the Hammers squad to take on Blackburn, reveal how they hope to follow in the West Ham United Academy's illustrious tradition.

Matt Reed - Goalkeeper

"I've never played a Youth match against Blackburn so it's difficult to know what to expect. They are top of their FA Premier Academy Group and we're expecting a very different game to the last round against Gillingham. The Gills were a physical and direct side, but Blackburn will probably be a bit cuter with their football. It's going to be a very tough game.
But the atmosphere has been good in training, despite us coming into the game off the back of a couple of League defeats. It's great for us to get the chance to play at Upton Park as well. It's a really great Stadium and a little more comfortable than most of the boys are used to.
In the last round, the game went to extra-time so we have been practicing a few penalties in training recently. It was more for the outfield players than the goalkeepers to be honest, but you have to be well-prepared in these sort of Cup matches, no matter how determined you are to go through in normal time. 
Everyone is really excited about the game and hopefully we can put in a good performance."

Ollie Allen - Forward

"I'm really looking forward to the game. I had to come off against Gillingham, so I'm hoping to play a full part against Blackburn on Wednesday. The last round was a really strange game for us, scoring six goals to win. We didn't defend as well as we would have liked, but to score so many was obviously a huge confidence boost for us.
Footballing wise I don't know too much about Blackburn, although I know a few of the lads from my cricketing days when I played for Essex against Lancashire.
I've heard that they're a really good side though, so everyone's expecting a tough, physical game against them.
I'm playing in a wide role at the moment, with Moses Ashikodi and Tony Stokes up front and I've really started to enjoy it out there. It gives me a lot of freedom and I also feel that I can score goals out there as well as supply them for other people. I'm not sure where I will play on Wednesday yet, but as long as I'm in the team that's all that matters.
The FA Youth Cup is a massive tournament for the young players and everyone is really up for it. Hopefully, we can put in a good performance at Upton Park and earn a place in the Fifth Round."

Moses Ashikodi - Striker

"Blackburn have been a good side at Youth level for a few years now, and we're expecting a really hard game. I doubt they'll be as many goals as there were in the last round, when we scored six against Gillingham. But we'll also need to defend a lot better than we did against Gillingham and make sure we don't make it easy for Blackburn to play. They'll be physical, but they're bound to have good ability on the ball as well, and we have to watch out for that.
But we're not scared of anybody. Confidence is high and everyone is looking forward to the game. We've got some excellent players, an England international midfield, and if anything Blackburn should be worrying more about us!"

West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park, kick-off 7.00pm