Afolayan: I can't wait for the first pre-season test

Oladapo Afolayan

West Ham United's U23s travel to Braintree Town on Friday night in their first pre-season test, and forward Oladapo Afolayan can't wait to get back on the pitch after a summer of rest.

The match, which kicks off at 7:45pm at Cressing Road, will be new coach Dmitri Halajko's first in charge of the Academy side.

Afolayan, who spent the second half of last campaign on loan at Oldham Athletic, is looking forward to getting back on the grass as he hopes to get on the scoresheet, not for the first time in his career against the Essex opposition. 

"We are all massively looking forward to the game on Friday," the forward said. "It’s the first of pre-season and it will be good to get minutes and football back into the system.

"I have played Braintree before, at the beginning of my time at Solihull Moors, and scored a good goal.

"It would be nice to do that again! But yeah, it was good and I have good memories against Braintree."

The young Hammers have been back in training at Chadwell Heath since the start of July ahead of the new campaign.

And for Afolayan, it's been a case of getting used to his east London surroundings once again after last campaign's League Two loan spell.

I have good memories against Braintree. I scored against them before and we are all massively looking forward to the game on Friday.

Oladapo Afolayan

The 21-year-old made ten appearances while on loan at Boundary Park, learning all the while, particularly from a former Premier League legend, who was manager during the start of his loan.

“It was a good experience for me. It was very up and down, to be fair, and I learned a lot.

"But I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning, learning under Paul Scholes, but then my shoulder injury and the change in management meant the end of the season was not what I hoped for.”

This disappointing end to the season has motivated the young striker ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

"I’m ready for the new season. I enjoyed playing men’s football again and I can’t wait for this year.

"Having a friendly like Friday's is great for us too - playing a men's side. It helps your development.

"I want to continue my development as a player and get back to my best."

Following Friday's friendly, the U23s will fly to Slovakia for their summer training camp, continuing their busy pre-season schedule that also sees them travel to Belgium to face Anderlecht.