Westley - It’s a mouth-watering tie

The Dev Squad will host Liverpool in the Barclays U21 Premier League Cup semi-final
Reflecting on the news that the Development Squad have been dealt a home time with Liverpool in the Barclays U21 Premier Cup semi-final, Academy director Terry Westley described it as a “mouth-watering tie.”

Following wins over Exeter City, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers in the previous rounds, the Hammers will host English giants Liverpool.

Looking ahead to semi-final clash, Westley said: “It’s a great draw, out of all the teams, that is the most attractive match. It’s a bonus that it’s at home.

“Hopefully we get the biggest crowd at Rush Green we’ve seen in a while. It’s a huge challenge for our young players. As everyone knows, Liverpool are a massive club, with a great tradition and a very strong Academy and U21 set up. It’s a real challenge for us.

“When you get to this stage, it’s about how much we want to win it. We’ve earned the right to be here, we beat a tough Exeter City side away, and then we’ve beaten Fulham and Blackburn so it hasn’t been easy.

“Now we’ve got this mouth-watering tie with Liverpool and we’re won step away from the final.

“Hopefully, it’ll dwarf all attendances we’ve had so far, even though we’ve had some impressive gates this season. A semi-final, against Liverpool, it should be a great occasion for everyone.”

In recent months, the Development Squad have gone from strength to strength, enjoying a surge in form while sending a number of players out on loan to various teams in the Football League.

Westley continued: “We cover all games where our players go out on loan as part of their loan plan, to help monitor their progress.

“Josh Cullen at Bradford, Martin Samuelsen at Peterborough and Lewis Page at Cambridge United have all done well. Reece Burke particularly has been outstanding for Bradford, over a long period of time.

“The next step now is to get a good preseason in them and challenge the first team. Then we need to reassess, maybe look to get them into the Championship. At the end of the day, we need to be producing players good enough for West Ham.

“They’ve all shown that they are more than capable of competing in the Championship, people are talking about us again, and that’s a good thing for us and our reputation.” 

The winners of the semi-final will face the winner of Huddersfield v Millwall/Hull City 

*The date, venue and times of the fixture will be announced shortly