'It's a great experience for the boys'

West Ham United's Academy scholars are being given every opportunity to become complete footballers, according to Under-18s coach Nick Haycock.

The club's youngsters not only train full-time at Little Heath, but are also taking part in weekly sessions with Sam Allardyce's first-team squad.

As well as their regular FA Premier Academy League fixtures, a number of scholars are also regulars in Ian Hendon's development squad, while Rob Hall was included in the first-team squad for Tuesday's npower Championship visit of Bristol City.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's FA Premier Academy League visit of Chelsea to Little Heath, Haycock is hopeful the positive experiences his players are enjoying will help the Hammers to bounce back from defeats by Charlton Athletic and Fulham in their previous two matches.

"With the last two results, from day one we didn't get carried away when we made a flying start to the season when we won five in a row and equally we're not too despondent now," said Haycock.

"In terms of their progress at the football club, the gaffer and Neil McDonald have been superb with the boys. They have been training with the first team and some have been selected for first-team games and helping in that way.

"It's a great experience for the boys to be promoted to being in the first-team squad and is a great fillip for them. The relationship between myself, Hendo and Macca is really good and that can only benefit the players.

"In terms of Chelsea on Saturday, the boys have trained well this week and are in good spirits and I'm expecting a more intense performance than we produced against Fulham and Charlton.

"We dropped off a little bit in those games but I think that is because one or two of the first-year scholars have got a bit tired of late but with the week we've had this week, I'm expecting a good performance against Chelsea."

Haycock said the club's supporters could also play a part in inspiring the Under-18s to producing a positive performance and result on Saturday.

With admission and parking free at Little Heath and the first team away at Hull City, the coach urged the fans to turn out in numbers for the 11am kick-off.

"The boys thrive when they are playing in front of a crowd and we tend to get a good turnout against Chelsea with it being a London derby.

"Like last week against Fulham, I'm expecting a good game of football. The result didn't go our way last week but it wasn't for the want of trying. If we'd have scored at the right time, the scoreline would have been very different and would have been a fairer reflection of the game.

"This week, the two teams will go out and play good football. Chelsea have a 4-3-3 formation like us and I'm looking for us to control possession, regardless of the result, because that will give me an indication that they are taking on board what we have told them in the pre-season and are making strides towards being complete players."