Dev Squad up for Royals opening

Ian Hendon's Development Squad kick-off their 2012/13 season against Reading at the newly-developed Rush Green Stadium tonight.

A tough pre-season saw Hendon's youthful side test themselves against npower Football League opponents in AFC Wimbledon, Northampton Town and Dagenham and Redbridge.

Hendon's side will compete in the Barclays Under-21 League, a newly-launched format that is set to provide competitive football on a regular basis for developing players.

Youngster Leo Chambers is confident that the league will provide himself and his team-mates a massive boost, and that they will reap the rewards of regular, competitive football.

"I think it will be a massive positive to be competing in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League," said Chambers. "I think playing against other teams who will bring good, young international players will provide a great test.

"We will be able to push ourselves to the limit because we will be playing against the very best, not just from our country but around the world. It will also provide a lot more motivation and make us hungry to win every game."

The former England Under-16 captain has featured heavily in Hendon's Development Squad during pre-season and is hoping that he can make himself a permanent fixture in the side.

"I am first and foremost a youth-team player, but if I can push up to the Development Squad and cement my position within the side this season I will be very happy. At the moment Hendo is playing his cards close to his chest, nobody has been guaranteed a spot and it's up to us to work hard and get in the starting lineup."

Showing great maturity at the tender age of 17, Chambers insisted that if he isn't a part of Hendon's plans he will continue to work hard in the Under-18s.

"I will work hard wherever I am, whether it is the youth team or the Development Squad. I will train hard week-in week-out, day-in day-out. If I continue to do that and give my all I will hopefully get an opportunity."

Chambers signed his first professional contract recently and already has set his sights on working through the ranks into the first team.

"Hopefully I will have a long career at West Ham. I'm very ambitious and I need to keep working hard within the Development Squad and the youth team, and hopefully I can break into the first team."

Tickets cost £3 for adults, £1 for kids and are free to Season Tickets and Academy Members on proof of purchase. The stadium is located on Rush Green Road, Romford, RM7 0LU.