Kevin Keen will take his youngsters to Tilbury on Monday night for their last official pre-season friendly of the summer.
The reserve-team manager will be in charge of the West Ham United XI and once again it will be a chance for the club's crop of talented youngsters to shine. The previous outing was at Bishop's Stortford last Tuesday when six first-teamers helped pave the way for a 2-0 victory but it was the youngsters, who are still very much of Tony Carr's Under-18 set-up, who saw the game out and gave Keen plenty of food for thought.
"We got some good passing movements going at the end," he said. "I was pleased with my lot. There were a few too many changes in the second half but that is how it is in these friendlies. We probably lacked a little bit more bite up front but certainly some of the passing and movement was good."
Luis Boa Morte finished off the scoring last week but it was Jack Collison who had set the side on their way. Keen is not certain whether he will see too much of his captain from the last campaign this time around. "We are going to have to see what happens with Jack," he said. "Hopefully he won't end up playing as many games in the reserves. Not because I don't want him - because I do - but simply because I think he needs to further his experience. Either by going on loan or breaking into the first team."
Along with last year's breakthrough trio of James Tomkins, Freddie Sears and Collison, the likes of Jordan Spence, Joe Widdowson, Ashley Miller, Bondz 'Gala, Junior Stanislas and Zavon Hines have also shown some of their potential this summer. They could figure heavily for the reserves this season while there are a few others looking to show what they can do such as midfielders Tom Harvey and Daniel Kearns and the versatile Josh Payne.
Last week's game saw full-back Ryan O'Neill get a chance alongside some senior pros and Keen was more than happy with his display. "He has got good talent," he said. "He sees things and I have been waiting for him to perform like that for me and he has got to keep that going through the year. There are a few who will be looking to get more involved with the reserves this year."
After the Tilbury test, Keen will be looking to set up a few friendlies at Chadwell Heath this summer as the reserve campaign does not get going until 15 September and a trip to Chelsea. The 2007/08 campaign saw his team challenge for the Barclays Premier Reserve League South title all season and they were only pipped by Aston Villa by four points, having only narrowly lost by late goals to the champions home and away.