Collison: U18s 'double excited' for FA Youth Cup tie

U18s squad


Jack Collison says West Ham United’s U18 squad cannot wait for Monday’s FA Youth Cup third-round tie with Brighton & Hove Albion to kick-off.

The young Hammers welcome the Seagulls to Chigwell Construction Stadium eager to end a six-year wait for a win in the country’s most-prestigious tournament for scholars and schoolboys.

The Irons head into the game on a two-match winning run, having beaten Manchester City and Reading in the U18 Premier League Cup and U18 Premier League South respectively in recent weeks, and co-coach Collison says he and Mark Phillips’ side are ready for action.

We’re pretty much at full strength and we go into the game in a really strong frame of mind

Jack Collison

“The boys are double excited for the FA Youth Cup!” he said. “It’s obviously nice to go into the game with a bit of momentum off the back of two wins and two very, very good performances, which is obviously even more pleasing.

“There is plenty of competition for places, which obviously takes the intensity in the training sessions up because everybody is trying to grab the shirt, not just to get in the starting XI but to get in the squad.

“We’ve not just got first and second-year scholars this year, but the schoolboys have been pushing for starts this year. The likes of Jamal Baptiste, Amadou Diallo and Jayden Fevrier have been pushing the boys even harder, which is really pleasing to see.

“We’ve had a really good week’s preparation. The boys have really put the work in in the classroom in terms of the analysis sessions, out on the pitch with their training and keeping on top of things in the gym, so we’re in a really good place and we go into the game high in confidence.

“We obviously know what’s at stake. This is the best youth competition in the world, there’s no doubt about it, so there’s going to be a bit of pressure under the lights at Dagenham in front of a crowd against a good Brighton team.

“We’ve watched a bit of Brighton and we know what they’re all about so it’s a big game and an occasion we’re all looking forward to.”


Amadou Diallo


West Ham have not won an FA Youth Cup tie since beating Aldershot Town in the third round in 2012/13, six seasons ago, a far cry from the halcyon days of 1963, 1981 and 1999, when the Irons lifted the trophy.

While Collison, Phillips and everyone at the Academy of Football are eager to replicate that success in 2019, the former Hammers midfielder says the current crop of youngsters has the ability to go far in this season’s competition.

“We’re not going to put pressure on the boys by telling them we expect them to go out and win the whole competition,” said Collison, who featured in the FA Youth Cup for both Cambridge United and West Ham. “We’ll take it a round at a time, to use a cliché.

“Brighton stand in our way and we need to beat them to get to the fourth round, so all our focus is on this game. We’re pretty much at full strength and we go into the game in a really strong frame of mind.

“It’s still a great competition and a great experience for the young lads, and a taste of what it’s like when they go forward to the first team.

“We’re trying to give them a platform and a confidence so they don’t go out and shrink under the lights, but rise to the occasion. If they go out and do that and play to their maximum and give their absolute everything, that’s all we can ask for on the night.”

*Kick-off at Chigwell Construction Stadium on Monday evening is at 7pm, with parking and tickets available on the night.