West Ham United’s scholars and schoolboys will look to get back to winning ways when they welcome Norwich City to Little Heath on Saturday.
The young Hammers were beaten heavily at Southampton in their first fixture of 2019 last weekend but will harbour strong hopes of achieving a better result against a Canaries side who sit bottom of U18 Premier League South.
Coaches Mark Phillips and Jack Collison guided the Irons to a 4-1 victory in the reverse fixture in Norfolk in August and the latter is hoping they can replicate that performance on home turf.
And Collison’s confidence has been boosted further by the return of a number of players from injury following the Christmas and New Year break.
Our attackers should get a lot of opportunities to attack and our defenders should be exposed to lots of one against one situations and overloads, which will hopefully improve them defensively and turn them into better players
“We had a really positive result against Norwich at the start of the season but we know what they’re going to be about and it’s always a tough game when we play them in every age group, so we’ll be fully prepared,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to it and looking to improve on last weekend because it’s a big push between now and the end of the season, trying to get players contracts and players into the U23s. Everyone is trying to impress and get that starting spot.
“The good thing the Christmas break gave us was a bit of time for our longer-term injured players to get closer to playing and it’s nice to see them knocking on the door – Jake Giddings (pictured, right), Louie Watson, Anwar El-Mhassani are back in training and Harrison Ashby is not too far off and Sam Caiger is getting closer – and trying to get back and make an impact between now and the end of the season.”
“We had a disappointing result last weekend, so the boys have been working tirelessly on the training pitch, looking to bounce back,” he continued.
“There were some positives within the game but obviously the scoreline wasn’t too pretty and there were a lot of errors we’re looking to eradicate. We’re looking to be better defensively, but also to carry more of a threat going forward.
“We’re a team who likes to be expansive and play fast, attacking, flowing football and create chances and score goals, so we know we’ll concede chances and there will be games where we’re more open than we’d like to be but it’s the way we want to go, the way we want to go about things and how we feel we can really test the players.
“Our attackers should get a lot of opportunities to attack and our defenders should be exposed to lots of one against one situations and overloads, which will hopefully improve them defensively and turn them into better players.”