Reserves start against champions

West Ham United will kick-off their Barclays Premier Reserve League South campaign with a testing trip to reigning champions Aston Villa.

The Hammers, managed by Alex Dyer, will travel to the Midlands to face a Villa team that also lifted the play-off trophy after defeating North division title winners Sunderland in May.

Dyer will be eager to build on a promising first season in charge of West Ham's second string in 2008/09. The former Hull City and Charlton Athletic player guided the Hammers to fifth in the table last term, while also overseeing the emergence of the likes of Junior Stanislas, Josh Payne and Bondz 'Gala.

This time around, new professionals Matt Fry, Tony Brookes, Ollie Lee, Daniel Kearns and Anthony Edgar will all be hoping to impress, as will new signing Jack Lampe.

Following their visit to Villa on Tuesday 1 September, West Ham host newly-promoted pair Birmingham City a week later and Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday 15 September.

The opening month of the season is rounded out with a trip to the south coast to face Portsmouth on Tuesday 29 September. Further away fixtures at Chelsea and Fulham follow before the Hammers complete the first round of games with home matches against Arsenal and Stoke City.

Tottenham Hotspur, who finished second in the table last season, will not be fielding a side in the Barclays Premier Reserve League in 2009/10, reducing the number of clubs competing to nine.

All home fixtures will be played at Bishop's Stortford FC's Woodside Park stadium unless stated on

Should West Ham win the South division, they will take on the North division champions in a play-off on Wednesday 5 May 2010.

The reserves will also play a number of pre-season friendlies before the competitive action begins.

A West Ham United XI travel to Blue Square Premier Cambridge United on Saturday, kick-off 3pm, before making the short journey to Blue Square South outfit Thurrock on Friday 24 July, with kick-off at 7.45pm.

The reserves complete their pre-season commitments with a trip to Ryman League Premier Division side Kingstonian on Friday 31 July, kick-off 7.45pm.

For a full fixture list, click here