Dmitri Halajko: Let’s put disappointment behind us against Swansea

Dmitri Halajko

West Ham United U23s lead coach Dmitri Halajko believes his side’s upcoming trip to Swansea U23s could prove the perfect opportunity to put the recent disappointment of defeat behind them.

The U23s slipped to only their second defeat so far this season on Wednesday evening, falling to Wolfsburg ‘B’ in a 3-2 thriller at Rush Green Stadium.

Despite having the better chances for much of the Premier League International Cup clash, the German visitors struck late on to claim three precious group stage points and leave the Hammers facing an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout stages.

Halajko, however, believes such late events will only serve to motivate his side this weekend, as they look to continue their unbeaten Premier League 2 Division 2 run at Swansea’s Landore Training Centre on Sunday.

“Everybody gave everything they had on Wednesday,” Halajko said. “They put in a real big effort, but just not quite enough to get the win.

“The lads will want to get back out there and put away their disappointment. They’ll want to put it right and make up for some of the ways we weren’t quite at it on Wednesday night.”

Swansea play really good football, and the play it well. They like to dominate the ball and keep possession, so it’ll be our job to try and stop that.

Dmitri Halajko

With the fixtures falling thick and fast for the U23s this last fortnight – Swansea will mark their fourth game in just 13 days – Halajko made several changes to his regular starting line-up on Wednesday evening.

While the lead coach admitted that there are a few minor injuries within the squad, he also expressed his pride with how his squad applied themselves once again.

“We had a few little knocks and strains in training, so a couple of the lads didn’t make it into the squad,” he admitted. “Hopefully they’re nothing too major and they’ll be back, if not for the Swansea game, then probably the one after.

"It gave us the chance to freshen it up, put a few new faces in, and everybody played well. There wasn’t a bad performance in the squad. Everyone who came in or everyone that started again and played their third game in nine days, they gave everything they had.”

Led by former players Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack – son of the former Real Madrid manager, John – Swansea U23s have experienced mixed results in the first half of their Premier League 2 Division 2 campaign.

Nevertheless, the Swans were playing in the top tier of Premier League 2 as recently as last season, and possess a man in-form amongst their ranks, forward Josh Thomas joining the Hammers’ Nathan Holland and Anthony Scully as nominees for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month for October.

Halajko therefore feels that the first step for his team will be to stop the hosts from playing their game, before expanding into their own.

“Swansea play really good football, and the play it well,” he warned. “They like to dominate the ball and keep possession, so it’ll be our job to try and stop that.

“We like to dominate the ball and keep possession ourselves, so we have to make sure we try to stop them from playing first of all, and then it’ll open up for us to play our own football.”

Kick-off on Sunday is at 1pm; as always, you’ll be able to follow along through’s live blog.

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