Westley - We've gained vital experience

Development squad coach Terry Westley thinks his team's cup run and league campaign will stand them in good stead
Development squad manager Terry Westley believes his side’s experiences this season will help prepare his squad if the first team calls next campaign.
The young Hammers progressed to the final of the Under-21 Premier League Cup last week after an extra-time win over Liverpool, and they are currently fifth in their league table.
And Westley thinks the involvement in both competitions, as well as valuable loan spells for some members of the squad, have been vital in the team’s progression.
He said: “With the Under-21s being so competitive in the league, with an awful lot of younger players playing, and the run in the cup, we hope they’ll kick on next pre-season.
“Some of them will be ready for the first team and for Slaven [Bilic] and will be able to help. Add the Under-18s qualifying in the top section in their league, and we look really strong.
“Lewis Page at Cambridge, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke at Bradford, Martin Samuelsen at Peterborough…they’ve all had great experiences that will stand them in good stead to progress next season.
“It’s pleasing how many young players we’ve been able to field. The emergence of Declan Rice, who has done very well in the 18s and has played in the 21s, is great, George Dobson is an Under-18 but playing for the 21s – the same with Marcus Browne.
“The team has done well to cap off the season with a cup final in the last year of the stadium being available to us so it’s a great way for them to end the campaign.”
Westley also explained how important getting the balance right between playing academy football and getting senior experience on loan is.
“It depends on who the individual is, but both types of experience are vital. Some clubs will tell you it’s all about a loan, but others will say if you’re 18 and good enough you’ll have a go in the team. You might not need a loan.
“Look at [Luke] Shaw, [James] Ward-Prowse, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain and [Theo] Walcott at Southampton – they all never went on loan. But then at Spurs, [Ryan] Mason, [Tom] Carroll, [Harry] Kane and [Andros] Townsend – they all had a lot of loans.
“It just proves it depends on where the player is on his pathway.
“I think Samuelsen, Cullen and Burke, after a loan in the Football League, have got to prove next pre-season that they’re ready to help the first team and help the manager.
“It’s a competitive Under-21 programme, pushing players up age-groups, so it’s good for us and it’s been a good season so far.”