West Ham United U23s captain Conor Coventry says the guidance offered by experienced first team duo Mark Noble and Pablo Zabaleta is helping to improve him both as a player and a skipper.
Coventry led the young Hammers out on Tuesday in their 2-1 win over FC Kosice. Having gone a goal behind early in the second half, West Ham came back to secure victory thanks to quick-fire finishes from Nathan Holland and Dan Kemp.
The 19-year-old provided the assist for Holland’s equaliser just before the hour mark, capping a strong outing for the Republic of Ireland U-21 international.
It's a real honour to be captain. I've had some great examples to learn from like Mark Noble and Pablo Zabaleta.
The youngster was satisfied with his own showing and, having also worn the armband in Friday’s draw with Braintree Town, Coventry is also happy with his development as a leader for the U23s.
“I think I put in a good performance," Coventry told whufc.com. "I was happy to get an assist. It’s something I’m trying to do more of and add it to my game, along with goals.
“It was a good start to the season for me, personally. Nath’s shot took a deflection, but he did well with it. I’m just happy with the team performance which was really good at times.
“It may be a cliché, but it’s a real honour to be captain too. It’s something I’m trying to work on; being a leader and helping the group. I think it’s coming along well. When I’ve been with the first team, I’ve had some great examples to learn from like Mark Noble and Pablo Zabaleta. I’m just trying to learn from those two and improve.”
Tuesday's victory comes 24 hours after the Academy side touched down in Slovakia for their week’s pre-season camp, and Coventry feels the team put in a good early campaign display against an experienced side that holds Champions League experience.
“It was a very good result against a side that was a better-quality team that people probably think,” He continued. “They’re very close to going back for their season so they are at a higher fitness level than us at the moment.
“To come from 1-0 was a really good exercise for us. They were a good test. We’re trying to install a winning mentality and today’s victory helps us on that journey.”
With the U23s set for a whole week of intense training in Slovakia before returning to east London, Coventry believes all the players have shown their quality in training so far and will continue to improve as the days progress.
The midfielder is now targeting a win against Saturday’s opponents, Humenne, to cap a positive week for the U23s.
“Training has been at a really good tempo,” Coventry added. “The boys are all eager to do well. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the usual environment. I think all the players are up for it, they want to impress, and they all want a place in the team for the new season.
“We’re still gelling as a team and trying to up our fitness, and that’s the main aim of this week. If we can go and get another win on Saturday too, that would cap a very good week for us.”