Nolan - Youngsters can hold their heads high

Kevin Nolan believes West Ham United's young team can hold their heads high despite exiting the UEFA Europa League to Astra Giurgiu on Thursday night.

A 2-1 defeat on the night meant the Romanian side progressed to the Play-Off round by a 4-3 aggregate scoreline.

West Ham led 2-0 at one stage at home, and were again in front 3-2 on aggregate when they scored early on at Astra, but they were ultimately outgunned, leading to that empty feeling of an early exit.

The visitors' skipper said: "We were all disappointed and there are a lot of disappointed young boys in there who ran their hearts out, but they showed the quality they have.

"There were positives to be taken, but the result is disappointing."

West Ham were without several first team regulars as they kept an eye on Sunday's Barclays Premier League opener at Arsenal, and although the result did not go their way, Nolan said the team which did take to the field showed they had the quality to do the job.

He explained: "The Gaffer has planned this how he wanted to and the priority is the Premier League - we know we need to be in it going into that fantastic stadium next year, but he still wanted this too.

"The passion he showed for the competition [was clear] and this was a chance for all the boys to put them in his head for Sunday.

"We're all majorly disappointed, but a few of these boys will now be looking forward to hopefully getting a bit of time in the Premier League."

Manuel Lanzini gave West Ham hope with his third minute goal and Nolan admitted he felt that could be the springboard to victory.

He added: "We thought we had a chance when we went 1-0 up, but then maybe we started not attacking enough and that sort of brought the pressure on ourselves.

"In the second half we showed we wanted it. It was only late on that they had a few chances, but overall these lads can be proud of themselves.

"We've just fallen short and that goes down to the first leg as well. We were 2-0 up, if we see the game out we'd have won the leg quite comfortably."