Westley - We showed character

  • The Dev Squad, after going three goals down, were narrowly beaten 3-2 by Southend United
  • The League One outfit put out a full-strength side
  • Competition for places in the U21s goes on heading towards the start of the season
Development Squad boss Terry Westley was pleased with the character his players displayed to fight back and set up a nervy finish against League One side Southend United on Saturday.
The Hammers found themselves 3-0 goals down ten minutes into the second half, but scored twice in the final 15 minutes to make things nervy at Burroughs Park in Essex.
And Westley praised his side’s attitude as they hit back in the clash despite looking down and out.
He said: “You fear a little bit for the worst when you play a Peterborough United side on Tuesday with such a young team and then look at them in training and see them physically tired.
“I thought it would be really difficult against Southend, but we came through it really well and showed some good character.
“You like that mental toughness. We were fine with the ball first half, but they were stronger and a tad more physical than Peterborough. To come back to make it 3-2 was really positive.”
With many of the Development Squad’s regular starters away in Austria with the first team, Westley named a young side but he was impressed with the performance of the entire squad.
“This was Southend’s full-strength squad, and even the subs made weren’t young boys,” he continued. “Ours were – Kristjian Belic is 15-years-of-age, we have some 16-year-olds too. It was a real test.
“Diego Poyet came through it which was good for him to get some minutes under his belt, and the same with Alex Pike and Grady Diangana. They’re the senior ones and those three stood out.
“Both goalkeepers did well. It was a real challenge for them. Nathan Trott first half and Sam Howes second half – there’s a competition on there for places.”
The youngsters head to Holland on Sunday and Westley feels the trip is the perfect opportunity for the players to aspire to reach the levels of their teammates with Slaven Bilic’s squad.
He added: “I said to the team today, when you look at Samuelsen, Burke, Oxford, Cullen, Quina, Rice, Page all away, you’ve got to be good to get in this team this year.
“When they’re away in Holland, they have to put in a real shift to convince the staff they should be in the team.”