The EFL Trophy is a fantastic opportunity for our U21s – Ricky Martin

Ben Johnson of the West Ham United U23s


Academy Manager Ricky Martin says the 2019/20 EFL Trophy will be a fantastic opportunity for the West Ham United U21s to test themselves against mature and experienced players from the Football League. 

West Ham’s involvement in the competition next season was confirmed on Friday, with the Hammers joining 15 other Category One Academy teams in participating in the tournament. 

The format sees 16 invited teams joined by the 48 clubs in League One and League Two and Martin is excited to see how the West Ham young talent hold up in the competition. 

This competition will prepare them and give them an indication of the levels and what it will take to play at that level every week

Ricky Martin

“The EFL Trophy provides our squad with the opportunity to play and compete in a senior team environment,” Martin told “While we might get some overage players occasionally playing in the U23s matches in Premier League 2, this environment is a fantastic opportunity for our players to try themselves against league clubs. 

“If these youngsters are going to make the transition into the senior game then playing against this type of player is the situation they will find themselves in, week in, week out. To play against mature players in this competition will certainly help them prepare for that. 

“This competition will prepare them and give them an indication of the levels and what it will take to play at that level every week.”

West Ham United’s Premier League 2 side will start the 2019/20 campaign in Division 2 after relegation from Division 1 at the end of the season. The Irons reached the knock-out stages of the EFL Trophy in 2017/18, and Martin is targeting a competitive showing from the Irons youngsters. 

Sean Adarkwa


Ultimately though, Martin says the Academy’s goal continues to be the development of players for the West Ham first team, with a host of talent hoping to follow the likes of Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Grady Diangana in playing in Manuel Pellegrini’s team.

Martin added: “Ultimately our goal is the same; the individual development of the players and producing players for the first team. We don’t want to be caught up with results in the short-term but any competition we put a West Ham team out in, we want to do well and compete. 

“We want to improve, and I’ve seen that perhaps, In the last couple of years, we’ve not done as well in this competition as we would have liked, and I would certainly hope that we can improve that this year.”