U21s begin season at Spurs

Nick Haycock's Development Squad kick-off the 2014/15 Barclays U21 Premier League season at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

West Ham United's young professionals make the relatively short trip up the A1 to Stevenage FC's Lamex Stadium, where a number of them featured in a first-team pre-season match in July.

Monday's 7pm kick-off will give the likes of Elliot Lee, Dan Potts, Josh Cullen and Matthias Fanimo the opportunity to build on their own pre-season experiences, which saw the trio appear at home and abroad for Sam Allardyce's seniors.

They will join Kieran Sadlier, Kieran Bywater and a host of other promising youngsters as the Hammers seek to build on a pre-season which has seen them travel to Germany and the Netherlands and win a four-team tournament at Cambridge United.

"It will be a good game and it will be interesting to see how we go," said Haycock. "Spurs play in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, so it will also be interesting to see what sort of players they use, but they have a big squad of seniors and young pros.

"You can only control yourselves and hopefully we will have a few of the lads who have been with the first team in pre-season and will be available to play for us, so that they will be ready for the first team if and when required.

"We've always had good young players at the Club and we've seen that in recent years. Those who have been with the first team in pre-season know they've got to come back to the U21s and show what they've learned and put in good performances. If they do that, it keeps them in the manager's mind for forthcoming games."

Haycock has been happy with the Development Squad's preparations for the new season, despite seeing them lose 5-0 in their final pre-season match at PSV in Eindhoven last week.

"It's been a productive and positive time. We had a look at the analysis and it shows all the good things we have done in the pre-season, although the scoreline against PSV didn't show that. The stats that we have gone through - penalty area entries, shots, pass completion and possession - and we were the better team in all the categories.

"We had 58 per cent of the ball in the second half, which is a very high percentage against a top European side like PSV. Obviously we had a few players missing, so the boys shouldn't be downbeat about their performance. It was just little margins and mistakes, which is a good indicator that they can't make them at this level.

"We are going to go up against some powerhouses who spend a lot of money on their Academy systems, so it's going to be a tough ask for this season. It's one we are excited about and feel we can be competitive in every game.

"The boys are going to be up against the best Academies in the country and it will be good for their development to see how they fare."

With the likes of Lee, Burke and Potts impressing at first-team level, Haycock is excited about the prospect of seeing them continue to develop in the Barclays U21 Premier League.

Burke scored the winner in the Marathonbet Cup win over UC Sampdoria earlier this month, converting Lee's pass, while Potts has been consistently impressive over the last few weeks as he looks to cement a first-team squad place.

"I was smiling because against Sampdoria Reece scored from Elliot's pass and, moments before that, Pottsy was up there in the box and having a shot too!" Haycock continued.

"There will have been many people smiling when they saw that game because a lot of them have invested time and hard work in their development through the system. Everybody has had a part to play in that.

"It was a pleasing thing for their families too and they will be delighted for them. It was fully deserved because they are a credit to the Club."

Kick-off at the Lamex Stadium is at 7pm, with tickets available on the night. Alternatively, you will be able to follow live text updates on whufc.com and Twitter, with highlights and reaction to follow on West Ham TV.