Midfield duo 'a big plus'

Kevin Keen was pleased after another good test for his West Ham United XI at the weekend with confidence mounting ahead of the new campaign.

Despite losing out 2-1 away to Grays Athletic, Kevin Keen was able to dig out positives from the match, including a successful run out for two experienced first-teamers Matthew Etherington and Lee Bowyer following an extended injury absence. "It was a big plus that they both came through," said Keen. "All seems fine and there were no problems, so hopefully they will be in and around the first-team for this week's games."

Keen said: "It was a good stiff game for us. Grays played some good football, similar to what Cambridge United did last week. It was a good test for us. We were disappointed with the goals we conceded, but that's football and it is all things that the young boys can learn from and hopefully, be better for it."

The reserve-team coach said the young players were benefitting from taking part in these pre-season friendlies, and some are now firmly in the frame to join the senior selection at Ipswich on Monday night. "I think this game showed that we have a little way to go, some players are in front of others, but we will see how we go. Some of them will travel with the first team on Monday and others will be playing on Tuesday at Bishop's Stortford."

Zavon Hines scored his fifth goal in as many games and is just one of several players aiming to follow team-mates Jack Collison, James Tomkins and Freddie Sears into the first-team picture. "There is competition, but that is good. They all want to be the next ones who break through," said Keen. "They all muck in together, there's a good spirit. They were glad that Jack, Freddie and James have got their senior debuts and they too want to be the ones playing in the Premier League."