Westley urges players to savour U21 final

Terry Westley has told his players to enjoy the final U21 game at the Boleyn
With little over 24 hours to go until West Ham United’s U21s play their biggest game of the season – the Barclays U21 Premier League final with Hull City, Academy director Terry Westley has told his players to enjoy the occasion.
The first leg of the final, which kicks off at 7pm, also represents the last ever U21 game at the Boleyn Ground.
Ahead of such a momentous game, Westley has urged the young Hammers to maintain their concentration on the task in hand: “The key is keeping everyone’s excitement under control. It’s going to be a terrific match. We’ve earned the right to be there with a great performance against Liverpool in the semi-final.
“There’ll be a big crowd, with 12-15,000 expected, so keeping everyone’s emotional control will be the key. It won’t be easy. People think because we have beaten Liverpool, this will be simple; it definitely won’t be, and we will have to play our very best to get the result.
“If I look back, we’ve done very well. In the Exeter game, they fielded seven first team players and that was a real challenge for our players. That got us on a roll. To beat Fulham and Blackburn and then Liverpool, we’ve had tough matches and we’ve earned the right to be there on Monday. But, Hull will be a test, and we’ll have to be at our best to win.”
Having just missed out on a play-off spot following a narrow defeat away at Aston Villa in the last league game of the season, everyone at the illustrious Academy of Football is aiming to finish the season on a positive.
Westley continued: “In some ways the Villa result has helped, because the disappointment has given us a little jolt. The hurt they experienced made the players realise they’ve got to play at full tilt, with confidence and concentration. We need to play at the consistency we played against Liverpool. If we do that, we can get a positive result.
“As it’s the last game at the Boleyn for our players, it’s the last chance to play there, and for the supporters to see a final there. They can get us a good performance and hopefully a lead going to Hull the following week. All of those ingredients could add up to a really special night.”
Having fielded a wide variety of players from the first team, Dev Squad regulars as well as emerging talents from the U18s and below, Westley faces several tough decisions to make.
He continued: “The XI that get picked are very fortunate, as obviously we’re going to have some disappointed players too. We have a strong squad. Josh Cullen, Reece Burke and Martin Samuelsen all want to play. Lewis Page is now fit. Djair is coming back. Everyone wants to play but we want to keep everyone’s expectations calm, but it could be a big night.
“There will be players who haven’t played in front of 10-15,000 people. It will be interesting to see how they cope and handle the little bit of pressure.
“Training has gone up a notch this week. You’ll find out more about the players and how they handle Monday night. It’s a good development tool for me, but when you get to this stage, you want to win.”