Youngsters head for Estonia

West Ham United's Under-18 squad will step up their pre-season with a trip to Estonia this week.

The Hammers youth-team squad have been working hard at Little Heath in preparation for the international tournament in Tallinn, which will see them take on the Estonia Under-19 national team, Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven and Russian side Dinamo Moscow.

Before they fly out on Thursday 22 July, however, the youngsters will return to match action by taking on Dagenham & Redbridge and Notts County in two 60-minute warm-up matches.

Academy coach Nick Haycock said he and his staff were looking for the players to take a positive approach to their intense pre-season training schedule.

"Training has gone well," said Haycock. "We've put in a hard ten days of double sessions and obviously we tapered it off towards the end of the week because we have games on Monday and Tuesday against Dagenham & Redbridge and Notts County when we're going to play 60 minutes.

"The boys will play 45 minutes in one game and 15 in the other and then we travel to Estonia next Thursday.

"We play PSV Eindhoven on the Friday and then the Estonia Under-19 side, which should be interesting, and then DInamo Moscow.

"PSV will play in the Dutch style and I expect we'll play similar to them in terms of shape, style and system. We expect Estonia to be big, fit and strong but also technically-gifted, and Dinamo Moscow always present a test.

"Hopefully the lads can look after themselves and behave - how they conduct themselves while we're away is also important and we'll be looking at that - and we'll also organise a team-bonding activity so we can gel the lads into more of a team.

"It will be a great test for the boys. We'll obviously have to limit their game-time out there because three games in five days isn't ideal at this stage of pre-season, so everything we do will be looking towards our first game of the season against Sheffield United.

"We'll move onwards and upwards and it's all-systems go for the tournament. Then, when we get back we'll hit the ground running and take it into the start of the season."

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"The games on Monday and Tuesday will be about getting the cobwebs out of their systems and getting them back into game-play situations.

"They've done a lot of hard running this week and have been out into the forest, which replicated the first team and everyone had a good time.

"We've got a good set of lads and we're looking forward to hopefully having a successful season."