Dmitri Halajko: West Brom will be very hard to beat
West Ham United U23s head into Monday’s Premier League 2 Division 2 encounter with West Bromwich Albion U23s with their unbeaten record now stretching back 13 games.
The Hammers currently sit second in the league, with only Manchester United ahead of them on goal-difference. Excellent displays against Newport County and Valencia ‘B’ have also seen the Hammers make a perfect start in both the Leasing.com Trophy and Premier League International Cup.
Head coach Dmitri Halajko has, however, insisted that there is a long way to go and that his squad must stay grounded despite impressive early-season form.
“I think it’s early days still,” he said. “We can’t get carried away with ourselves – it is only mid-September and it’s a long, long league campaign. What we’ve done so far we’re pleased with – but we’re still a long way off achieving anything yet.”
They’re very well organised, they’re very hard to beat, very hard to break down
West Brom are the visitors to Chigwell Construction Stadium on Monday evening at 7pm and Halajko anticipates another difficult test.
“I’m expecting West Brom to be contending for the Play-Offs," he confirmed. "They’ll be one of the teams who’ll be in and around the top third of the league, which is where we also want to be, so they’re going to be tough opposition.”
Former Portsmouth and Oxford United manager Michael Appleton will be in the dugout for the Baggies and West Brom have also made a good start to their PL2 season.
The Baggies currently find themselves in fifth place in the league, occupying fifth spot and have won two of their opening four fixtures, including an eye-catching 6-0 thrashing of Sunderland.
“They’re very well organised, they’re very hard to beat, very hard to break down," Halajko observed. "They’re quite an experienced team so I think it’ll be another tough one. They’re not going to be an easy opposition by any means.”
Following on from Monday’s game, the U23s make the long trip to Teesside on Friday 20 September to face Middlesbrough, also in Premier League 2 Division 2.
With two important fixtures in the coming days, the return of Conor Coventry and Gonçalo Cardoso will be much welcomed. Both players have been away on international duty with Republic of Ireland U21s and Portugal U19s respectively.
The pair missed both cup games against Newport County and Valencia ‘B’ but are expected to be available for selection.
The next home game for West Ham United U23s takes place on Sunday 29 September against Sunderland U23s, with kick-off at 12noon.