West Ham United academy director Terry Westley believes his U23 side – when at full strength – are well equipped to beat Premier League 2’s top teams, something they will be hoping to do in Monday’s trip to Manchester United.
The Hammers kick-off their 2018 with the fixture at Leigh Sports Village against the Red Devils, a team who were thrashed 4-2 by the east Londoners back in October.
And after a positive first half of the campaign which saw the Hammers beat the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham as well as United, the Academy outfit will be hoping to continue in the same vein after their Christmas break.
A victory on Monday would see Westley’s men, at the first attempt, complete their first league double of the season and the boss is looking forward to the challenge.
He said: “It’s been a terrific year for the whole Academy in 2017 and we want to continue with that going into 2018.
“We have been very competitive in Division 1 this campaign and have managed to get 17 points in eleven games.
“Clubs stayed up last season with 23 points, so we’re in a really strong position at this point having achieved notable wins over Manchester United already, as well as City, Spurs and draws against Chelsea and Everton.
“It shows how competitive we can be; we can compete with the very best teams in this league when we field a strong XI and that’s what we want to do on Monday.
“The challenge from now will be to go on to accumulate as many points as possible to finish the season strongly although we know that challenge will be tough.”
Ricky Sbragia’s Red Devils side took an early lead the last time the two sides met – the Hammers’ first match of the campaign at London Stadium.
However, they were pegged back by a superb Toni Martinez who went on to bag a hat-trick before Joe Powell added a fourth to help the hosts eventually claim a 4-2 victory.