Under-18s open at Everton

West Ham United will begin the 2009/10 FA Premier Academy League season with a long trip north to take on Everton.

Academy Director Tony Carr will enter the season with high hopes, with the likes of goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet, defender Sergio Sanchez, midfielder Conor Okus and forward Cristian Montano all hoping to build on promising 2008/09 campaigns.

The Hammers are in Group A alongside reigning champions Arsenal, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Ipswich Town, Norwich City, Portsmouth and Southampton. Some 30 other clubs will compete in Groups B, C and D.

Clubs face every side in their division home and away, while also playing ten other inter-divisional fixtures against teams from other parts of the country.

Carr's side, who finished fifth in their division 2008/09, will travel to Merseyside for their opening fixture of the new campaign against the Group C Toffees on Saturday 22 August.

The Hammers' first home fixture will see Group C Stoke City visit Little Heath on Saturday 29 August before the youngsters face Group B Tottenham Hotspur at Spurs Lodge on Saturday 5 September.

Home games against Group B sides Birmingham City and Cardiff City follow before West Ham play host to Ipswich in their first Group A fixture on Saturday 26 September.

The Hammers will take on their Group A rivals home and away between September and early March, taking a three-week break over Christmas and the New Year.

Further inter-divisional fixtures will follow against Reading, Leicester City, Bristol City, MK Dons and Watford in March and April 2010.

The Hammers' FA Youth Cup campaign will start with a third-round tie in December. West Ham have won the competition three times in their history, lifting the trophy in 1963, 1981 and 1999.

Before the competitive action begins, West Ham's Under-18s will warm-up with a series of pre-season friendlies, starting with a trip to Tiptree United on Wednesday 22 July, kick-off 7pm.

The youngsters will travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 25 July, kick-off 11am, and Colchester United on Saturday 1 August, kick-off 11am.

Carr's players will welcome Reading to Little Heath on Wednesday 5 August, kick-off 2pm, and a journey to Ipswich Town on Saturday 8 August, kick-off 11am. Please note friendly dates can be subject to change.

The U18s will also travel to the Netherlands for an international tournament in mid-August before getting down to business on 22 August.

For a full 2009/10 fixture list, click HERE