FA Youth Cup action at the Boleyn!

Steve Potts says his West Ham United youngsters will be ready for action when they host Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Youth Cup fourth round on Tuesday evening.

The Hammers welcome their local rivals to the Boleyn Ground for a mouth-watering London derby, with a home tie with Bolton Wanderers up for grabs for the winners.

Under-18s manager Potts, who guided his side to a 1-0 Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One Stage victory over Spurs in his first and only game in charge on 12 January, says everyone involved is looking forward to the match.


"I'm looking forward to it, as the boys are," confirmed Potts. "It's a nice occasion for them in the FA Youth Cup. If you speak to any ex-players or present players, they will look back on the Youth Cup with fond memories of it. Hopefully our boys will have the same after the game.

"I don't think the league game will have any bearing whatsoever, I really don't. I think you will see a couple of sides with totally different make-ups in terms of team selection and, even if they were the same eleven against the same Spurs eleven, I'd still have the same opinion."

Potts has a near fully-fit squad to pick from on Tuesday, with only England U18 defender Leo Chambers and goalkeeper Sam Baxter missing through injury. While the U18s manager admitted Chambers will be a big miss, he has backed his players to make up for his absence.

"Leo is obviously a really good player and I'm sure, from his point of view, it's really frustrating because he would have featured in the first team this year - that's how highly the club rate him. Unfortunately, he has got a thigh injury that has ruled him out for the rest of the season but hopefully he'll come back stronger next season. The rest of the lads are all fit.

"It'll be nice for me to manager at the Boleyn Ground, but it's all about the boys. Hopefully they can put a good performance on and do themselves justice and get a positive result."

Should his players not perform to their maximum, Potts knows from personal experience that the FA Youth Cup can be a great leveller. In January 1985, Potts was part of a team that also contained Kevin Keen and Paul Ince that travelled to Swindon Town for a third-round tie, only for the Robins to shock the Hammers to the tune of a 4-1 defeat.

"I remember in my playing days, we had a good team but we went to Swindon Town away and came unstuck that year. It was one of those games which has always been in the back of my mind thinking 'How did that happen?', but it did. We quite fancied our chances that year and it just shows you that, even at youth level, you can't take anything for granted."

The former West Ham captain and Hammer of the Year will have prepared his players and warned them to guard against a similar result when Tottenham visit on Tuesday evening.

Kick-off at the Boleyn Ground is at 7pm, with admission charged at £3 Adults and £1 Concessions. The car park will be open, but with a large crowd expected, supporters travelling by car should arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The Stadium Superstore will also be staying open late so any fans hoping to stock up on Hammers merchandise ahead of the game can pop in!

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