Tottenham test for reserves

Alex Dyer will not be the only coach taking an interested view when the reserves line up against Tottenham Hotspur at Bishop's Stortford this evening.

The reserve-team manager has selected several of Tony Carr's Under-18s for his matchday squad with first-team commitments meaning a lack of experienced performers being available for the second string. For Carr, it will be a welcome opportunity to run the rule over his charges - without the pressures of worrying about tactics or the simple task of trying to win the game.

"I will go and watch from the stands," Carr said. "I don't mind doing that. I am emotionally detached from who's doing what, and things like wondering 'who is marking him' and 'why didn't you make a run forward there'. You sit in the stands, you are detached from the emotion of the game and you can perhaps look at things more analytically."

Instead the touchline responsibility will be all on Dyer and the reserve-team manager has plenty of promising prospects at his disposal. In particular, he could have the tricky Zavon Hines, well over his knee problems, making his first competitive start of the season after a substitute's outing last month in the 2-0 reserve defeat at Fulham. Hines has also made a couple of behind-closed-doors friendlies to hone his fitness.

Hines has also had a taste of international football with Jamaica after being called up by John Barnes for the friendly with Nigeria earlier this month, although he did not get on the pitch. The striker is eager to reproduce the form of a tremendous pre-season when he scored five times and then followed that up in September with a goal on his first-team debut in the 4-1 defeat of Macclesfield Town in the League Cup.

Also hoping to catch the eye this evening at Woodside Park is Josh Payne, with the influential 18-year-old having got a pre-planned half for the youths at the weekend in midfield. A versatile performer, Payne may drop into defence - a position he played for much of last season - for the reserve contest and he is another who is thought to be not too far away from the first-team picture.

Perhaps the closest are goalkeeper Marek Stech and winger Junior Stanislas, with the latter having travelled as part of Gianfranco Zola's squad to Bolton Wanderers last weekend. After his loan at Southend United earlier this season, Stanislas is cup-tied and therefore was never in contention for another awayday with the seniors for Wednesday night's FA Cup fifth-round replay at Middlesbrough.

Carr said such a reserve-team outing was a major opportunity, not just for those pushing hard for a first-team chance but for those looking to take the next step from the U18s as others like 16-year-old's Sergio Sanchez, a promising defender newly arrived from Barcelona, and England youth international striker Robert Hall follow behind on the production line.

"The door is open for the younger players to impress at a higher level - Tottenham at home, like all the London derbies, is always going to be a big game. They gave a good account of themselves last week in the friendly against Fulham. I only hope we can repeat that and it is another opportunity for them to step in the spotlight and show what they can do."

West Ham United are fifth in the Barclays Premier Reserve League South and could go second behind leaders Aston Villa if they better Chelsea's result at Stoke City. Admission to tonight's contest at Woodside Park is free to season ticket holders. Otherwise it is £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.