Westley - It's a happy dressing room

The Dev Squad are eight unbeaten, in the Play Off spots and into the quarter-finals
Following the Development Squad’s progression into the quarter-finals of the U21 Premier League Cup, Terry Westley highlighted the collective effort from both the players and the backroom staff.

The win, a 3-2 over Fulham after extra-time, saw the young Hammers extend their unbeaten to an impressive eight matches.

Speaking after the final whistle, Westley said: “I’m delighted with the player’s commitment and desire.

“It’s all a collective effort, obviously from the players but also away from the pitch. Liam Manning has come in and made a huge impact. All the work Steve Potts and Mark Philips does for the U18s; it’s a collective effort from everybody.”

In a thrilling match that ebbed and flowed, opponents Fulham took the lead twice in the first half yet a Djair Parfitt-Williams header and an Elliot Lee brace including a late penalty, was enough to see off the Cottagers.

Westley continued: “The character of everyone to comeback from behind twice was really excellent. It’s a happy dressing room at the moment.

“You can see the confidence in the way we’re playing, and this was against a good team, they had a lot of senior players with lots of league experience. In the end I thought we deserved to win on the strength of our second half performance.

“I’d highlight our two centre-halfs Leo Chambers and Reece Oxford, as really standing out and dealing with the threat their senior striker posed.

“The back four and goalkeeper were very solid. The midfield in the end dominated, Josh Cullen was everywhere and then we had a threat in behind and on the wings.”

For Westley, the positives continue to mount as the Dev Squad are currently in the Play Off positions in the Barclays U21 Premier League Division Two table.

Further to that, the likes of Reece Burke, Lewis Page and Martin Samuelsen are all prospering out on loan in the lower leagues.

Now, the experienced coach is hoping more players make the step up into the Football League: “The bottom line is, can you bridge that gap and play games in the Football League? Samuelsen has done that by playing for Peterborough, Burke is doing the same. That’s the challenge these boys face. They’ve either got to get into our team or be an asset by playing away somewhere else and coming back stronger.

“You can see when we play like we are at the moment that all the players are capable of having careers in the game at a good level, we were excellent collectively and individually.”

The Hammers are set to face Fulham for a third time in short succession, when the two sides face each other again on Friday 22 January at the Cottager’s Motspur Park training ground.  

“I think both teams will be fed up of each other! We’re playing each other twice over a quick space of time.

“Our players now need a rest. Cullen, Song and Oxford all got back from Bournemouth after 2am on Wednesday morning so there commitment is excellent.”