Westley focused on Friday's Everton opener



Terry Westley’s focus immediately switched to Friday’s Premier League 2 opener against Everton after the Academy of Football completed their pre-season preparations at Billericay Town on Tuesday.

A young Hammers side were beaten 3-1 at the AGP Arena against a Town outfit containing former Hammers Paul Konchesky and Leo Chambers.

But with the U23s set to take on last season’s Premier League 2 champions later this week at Dagenham and Redbridge, Westley looked straight ahead to the campaign opener after Tuesday’s defeat.

He said: “It was great to be involved in the game at Billericay with all the work that’s been done there, but our team will look a lot different to how it did on Tuesday.

“I think when you change a team too much, it can be a too bigger test for some, and I think that showed. The end result was fragmented, and our performance. But sometimes, that’s what pre-season is about.

“There were no injuries though, and people are ready for selection on Friday. I’ll now sit down with Liam [Manning] this week to discuss what we think the team ought to be.

“It’s our first game, playing against a very good side in Everton who are the Premier League 2 champions from last season. They’ll be strong, and we’ll be strong too. We’re looking forward to it.”

Our team on Friday against Everton will look a lot different to how it did on Tuesday. We want to perform to our best to get off to the best possible start

Terry Westley

Alex Pike in action at Billericay

Isthmian League Billericay proved too strong for the Hammers ultimately, scoring through Billy Bricknell, new signing and former Arsenal and Liverpool man Jermaine Pennant, and Sam Deering.

But playing against strong, senior players can only be positive for the development of the Academy’s talents, according to the boss.

Westley continued: “It was a good night and a good experience. For the younger players to play in front of 5,000 people, to play against a men’s team which contained Paul Konchesky and Leo Chambers and Jermaine Pennant – that’s great.

“It was always going to be a tough game for our players. There were still a number of players who couldn’t play for us tonight, some of the older ones.

“I have to say that Will Greenidge, who came on at right-back, he’s only 15, and Josh Okotcha – a centre-back – they both did very well and have come away from the game in credit.

“Grady Diangana, who did well and added a bit as a sub when he came on, and Martin Samuelsen first half – they were the ones who we looked at and impressed. Nathan Trott too.

“It’s a chance to get started on the right foot on Friday, and the more people that come, the better chance we have to up our game and perform to our best to get off to the best possible start.”