Bywater eyes Play-Off glory

Kieran Bywater has his eyes firmly set on victory when the West Ham United meet Manchester City in their Barclays U18 Premier League Play-Off semi-final on Saturday.

The two clubs go head-to-head at Platt Lane, having finished in the top two of their respective North and South divisions - Steve Potts' side finished as runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur in their section while City topped their table.

Midfielder Bywater, who has bagged a team-leading 19 goals this season, is keen to overcome the Citizens to earn a crack at the overall league title.

The midfielder told West Ham TV: "We want to be successful as a team and as individuals. We're all helping each other to try and push on to the next level and hopefully win some silverware to go with it.

"We've all done really well this season to get into the Play-Offs, so I think it will be a great credit to us if we do manage to win on Saturday."

A 1-1 draw in their last league match of the season at home to Arsenal last weekend made absolutely sure of the Hammers participation in the end of season Play-Offs.

Bywater netted the sixth-minute penalty that secured the point for his side with a goal which also took his personal tally to 19 for the season - a tremendous haul and one which the captain hopes to add to on Saturday.

"It's shown that I've added that to my game this season and I've been pleased to get quite a few goals," he continued. "They've come from free-kicks, penalties and open play, so all over really.

"I aimed for 20 goals at the beginning of the season and I'm not quite there yet, but it would be nice to get there in these next couple of games and hopefully we can beat Manchester City at the weekend.

"I'm on 19, so hopefully I can get another goal in the Play-Offs to add to my total, but obviously the main focus is to do well for the team and get through to the Play-Off final."

Saturday's opponents have enjoyed a strong season under the stewardship of manager and former Blackburn Rovers and England winger Jason Wilcox, finishing eight points clear of Everton in the North Division.

The Hammers suffered a 3-0 away defeat by the Citizens in April, but have since been boosted by the return of players such as Josh Cullen, Jordan Brown and Kyle Knoyle following the conclusion of Development Squad fixtures.

With Potts able to name a strong starting XI, Bywater feels it stands them in good stead to get a result on the weekend.

"The last time we went up there we had a younger team. We know that they're a good side, but we have a full-strength side and we do fancy our chances against them.

"Obviously we've been playing together all season and we went through quite a lot of games together, so I think having our strongest eleven out will benefit everyone in the squad.

"They like to have a lot of the ball and they like to play. They're a very attacking side and they want to have possession of the ball and be quick with it. We know what to expect from sides like that and I think we're definitely capable of dealing with what they have going forward and we're more than capable of scoring ourselves."

Kick-off at Platt Lane on Saturday is at 11am, with the winners facing either Tottenham or Everton in the final.