West Ham United U23s are anticipating a tough Spanish inquisition on Wednesday evening.
The Hammers host Villarreal in the Premier League International (PLI) Cup at Dagenham & Redbridge FC’s Chigwell Construction Stadium, with kick-off at 7pm.
The Yellow Submarine’s U23s are enjoying a fine season. They sit third and unbeaten in the Spanish Segunda B Group 3 table, having won four and drawn three of their opening seven matches, and defeated Portuguese giants Benfica 3-2 in their opening PLI Cup Group F tie.
West Ham, meanwhile, are seeking to bounce back from a 7-2 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in their own opening PLI Cup tie. That game saw the Hammers awarded no fewer than four penalties, including one taken and missed by the versatile Joe Powell.
The 18-year-old is eager to put that moment behind him on Wednesday, but is anticipating another testing evening against in-form Villarreal.
A win is key for us and we are looking forward to it, especially after a disappointing loss in the first group stage game
“We are expecting high quality opposition,” said Powell. “They will pass the ball well so I think it’s important we make it as hard for them to play as possible and then show them what we can do with the ball also.
“A win is key for us and we are looking forward to it, especially after a disappointing loss in the first group stage game.”
West Ham will be without a number of international call-ups, including Nathan Trott, Martin Samuelsen, Dan Kemp, but Powell is confident the Hammers have the quality and depth required to win Wednesday’s tie.
“It’s fantastic that we have players playing for their national teams, but this game also gives the others a fantastic opportunity to show their ability and why they think they should be playing.
Powell himself could return to a midfield role after impressing at left-back in recent Premier League 2 matches, but the teenager does not mind where Academy Director Terry Westley selects him, as long as his name is on the teamsheet.
“I had a great game against Sunderland last week at left-back. I think it’s good that I’ve shown I am versatile and reliable. So, I can fill in there when needed, but I still prefer scoring and assisting goals than stopping them!”
Powell will one of a host of Academy of Football stars on show on Wednesday evening, with Nathan Holland, Vashon Neufville, Josh Pask, Ben Johnson, Alfie Lewis and Conor Coventry also set to be included in Westley’s squad.
Tickets will be available on the night at Chigwell Construction Stadium. Admission is free for Season Ticket Holders and priced at £5 Adults/£3 Concessions otherwise.