Westley's youngsters ready for Billericay clash



Terry Westley sees Tuesday night’s clash against Billericay Town as a final chance for his U23 players to cement a spot in the starting XI before the league season kicks-off on Friday.

The Premier League 2 outfit travel to the AGP Arena to face the Isthmian League club in their last pre-season fixture of the campaign before Everton visit Dagenham and Redbridge later this week.

The youngsters have faced a number of tough friendly tests already, having taken on the likes of Football League sides Colchester United and Barnet, and with the number of experienced heads in the Blues’ side, Tuesday is likely to be no different.

Former Hammer Paul Konchesky is a key player for the hosts, while ex-Tottenham Hotspur man Jamie O’Hara is club captain. Former Premier League journeyman Jermaine Pennant also signed for the club this summer.

Hammers boss Westley acknowledged the game will be a tricky one, but challenged his players to prove themselves before the league campaign begins three days later.

He said: “It will be a hard game against Billericay, but we are looking at it as a real chance for some players to prove themselves for a final time this pre-season when we play on Tuesday.

“It’s a chance to try and get a spot in the starting XI for when we kick-off our league campaign against Everton on Friday at Dagenham.

It is a real chance for some players to prove themselves for a final time this pre-season when we play on Tuesday

Terry Westley

“It will be a game where those players who have been away with the first team this pre-season, they’ll get to play with the group for a first time this summer, which is something we haven’t had.

“We played Spurs at the weekend too, which was a good measure of where we are, so we’re looking forward to this last friendly.”

The Hammers have had a positive pre-season in full, beating National League Dagenham and Redbridge 2-1 after narrow defeats to Colchester and Barnet.

They then travelled to Slovakia to take on two local sides, and after a defeat followed by a win in mainland Europe, Westley was pleased with the trip.

“It was a really great trip in Slovakia for us,” the Academy Director continued. “We had the players working in the morning and in the afternoon, and then they were doing analysis work in the evening.

“It was great to have everyone together for that. It was a full-on, seven day programme and we had two very good games in great stadiums with great pitches, which was very important to us.

“We were really pleased with the second game in particular, with the manner in which we played.”

Billericay may play in the seventh tier of English football, but ambitious manager and Hammers fan Glenn Tamplin has invested heavily in his squad, signing former West Ham players Paul Konchesky and Leo Chambers, ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jamie O'Hara and one-time Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant.

Supporters can purchase tickets at the turnstiles at the AGP Arena on Tuesday, and kick-off is at 7:45pm.