Dmitri Halajko: U23s are raring to pull on the shirt against Norwich

Dmitri Halajko and West Ham U23s

West Ham United U23s face a packed fixture programme in the coming weeks, but according to Lead Coach Dmitri Halajko, they’re relishing the challenge.

After perhaps their best performance of the campaign so far against Stoke City on Monday night, combining stout defending with clinical finishing in a 4-0 win at the bet365 Stadium, Halajko believes his side just want matches to keep on coming.

Facing a second Premier League 2 Division 2 away trip of the week at Norwich U23s’ Colney Training Centre on Friday evening, and two more games against Wolfsburg and Swansea U23s next week, they are certain to get just that.

“We quite like it. We like the games coming thick and fast,” Halajko said of the fixture programme. “We like to put our last game to bed and look forward to the next one straight away, so the short turnaround won’t affect us too much. 

“We’ll have a look at the lads who played on Monday and see if there’s anyone who’s got any knocks, or any worries or concerns, but after a great night like that, really the lads can’t wait to get out there and pull on the shirt again.”

West Ham U23s' and Norwich U23s’ fortunes have differed significantly in the league so far this season; the unbeaten young Irons sit top of the division, while the junior Canaries are one place off the bottom, with a single win from eight games.

Despite the difference in form so far this season, Halajko expects another stern test for his squad on Friday night – as well as the potential for surprises in the hosts’ starting line-up.

From what I’ve seen their performances have been slightly better than their results, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re totally at our best.

Dmitri Halajko

“What we’ve seen of Norwich so far, they’ve been a good team,” he observed. “Sometimes they’ve dropped in some experienced players – I think Patrick Roberts played for them in their last game, he’s a top player. 

“They’ll be wanting to change their form, and from what I’ve seen their performances have been slightly better than their results, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re totally at our best, and just go from there.”

With the development squad having suffered their first defeat of the season at Cheltenham Town a fortnight ago, Halajko believes his side started the week with a point to prove.

That they made an immediate recovery against Stoke was all the more evidence for him of his side’s determination to be a top team in the Premier League 2.

“We spoke beforehand about not wanting to lose two games in a row,” he admitted. “We felt that real top, mature teams, who want to do well – if they lose one, they make sure they don’t lose a second. 

“That was a real strong focus for us against Stoke. We wanted to make sure we didn’t go there and get two losses on the bounce, so to show that strength of character and give the performance that we did was really impressive.”

Kick-off at Colney Training Centre is from 7pm on Friday night; as always, you'll be able to follow the game through's live blog, with video highlights available the following day.

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