Cullen praises strong performance

Development Squad captain Josh Cullen remained upbeat despite the Hammers’ 2-1 defeat away at West Bromwich Albion on Monday afternoon.

For large parts of the game the Dev Squad were in the ascendency, Elliot Lee and Manuel Lanzini went close early on however the Baggies pegged them back through an Adil Nabi free-kick and Kyle Howkins’ 88th minute winner.

Reflecting on a positive performance, Cullen said: “It was a strange game to lose; everyone in the dressing room was sitting their thinking the same. We have to pick the positives, mainly that if we play like that every game, we know we’ll win more often than not.

“We dominated the game from the first minute to the last. We just needed to be a bit more clinical in both boxes, had we taken our chances when we were at 1-1 we could have been 3-1, 4-1 up and out of sight.”

Nine of the starting eleven named by Academy Manager Terry Westley have been involved in the first team already this season.

Alongside Cullen, recent debutants Kyle Knoyle, Martin Samuelsen and Djair Parfitt-Williams all put on impressive displays. The combative midfielder explained the confidence he and his teammates gathered from their role in the first team.

 “I think a lot of the lads getting first team has helped a lot with confidence and self-belief. It’s a shame we got knocked out because the more experience we could have got the better.

“The Europa League was a great experience; playing in a packed Upton Park was a fantastic experience I’ll never forget. We’ve been to tough places like Andorra and Romania, in atmospheres and conditions we’re not used to. That’ll stand us in good stead for the U21 season.

“We believe in ourselves, and everywhere we go we’ll try and boss possession and dominate games. Whether you’re home or away, at the end of the day it’s a football pitch, eleven versus eleven and if we concentrate on that we won’t lose too many games this season.”

Up next for the young Hammers is a home game against Aston Villa on Monday 24 August before they make the short trip to the Emirates on Friday night.

The nineteen-year-old finished by saying two games in five games is the ideal way to bounce back from the opening day defeat.

“We’ve just got to kick on from here, take the positives from the performance and drive on. Personally, I thought I played well, alongside Diego I thought we dominated the midfield and had a lot of possession. It’s just a shame we haven’t come away with the result, I still think all the lads can come away pleased with their performances.

“People who haven’t watched the game might think we haven’t dominated the game based on the score but it was as one-sided a game as I can remember for a long time. All the lads played well.”