Hammers head for Tiptree

West Ham United's Under-18s will step up their preparations for the upcoming FA Premier Academy League season with a friendly at Tiptree United on Wednesday.

Assistant Academy director Paul Hilton will take a squad comprised mainly of first and second-year scholars to Chapel Road.

A number of Academy schoolboys will also make the trip to Essex. Turkey Under-17 goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet, central defender Jack Lampe, a summer signing from Harlow Town, and Republic of Ireland youth international midfielder Eoin Wearen could also be involved.

Hilton said his players were looking forward to putting all the hard work they have put into their pre-season training to good use.

"The lads have all come back in pretty good shape," said former West Ham defender Hilton. "Some of them have been involved in training with the first team and also in the reserve -team friendlies, lads like Eoin, Conor Okus, Robert Hall and Nick Barrett, which has been good for them.

"For the majority of the younger ones, however, this is their first chance to play in a match since they returned for pre-season training.

"The last two or three weeks have been quite tough for them so they will enjoy being out there on the pitch again."

With Academy Director Tony Carr concentrating on Friday's West Ham United XI reserve team friendly at Blue Square South club Thurrock, Hilton is also relishing the opportunity to take charge of the side at Tiptree.

"I am looking forward to taking the team myself," he confirmed. "I have known a lot of the lads since they were Under-15s so it has gone full-circle. It is good to see how so many of them have progressed and hopefully they will continue that progress on Wednesday."

Tiptree could provide a stern examination for Hilton's youngsters. The team finished eighth in the Ridgeons League Premier Division table, having won the Division One title in 2007/08. Tiptree have moved into the Essex Senior League for the 2009/10 season.

Managed by Colin Wallington, the Jam-Makers drew 1-1 at Essex and Suffolk Border League outfit Hatfield Peverel in their most recent pre-season friendly on Saturday.

Tickets for Wednesday's friendly will be priced at £6 for adults and £3 for children. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

For directions to Chapel Road, click here