West Ham United U18s begin FA Youth Cup challenge at Luton Town

Kevin Keen

West Ham United Under-18s are set to begin their FA Youth Cup campaign when they visit Luton Town on Thursday evening.

The third-round match will kick-off at Kenilworth Road - behind-closed-doors - at 7pm.

The young Hammers head into the competition in positive form, with victories against Arsenal, Brighton & Hove Albion and Reading in U18 Premier League South under their belts in recent weeks.

That run has been made all-the-more impressive by the advancement of numerous regular members of the team to the Under-23s squad, where many have impressed.

U18s lead coach, and former West Ham United midfielder, Kevin Keen is expecting to have a range of players to choose from for the trip to Bedfordshire, as the youth team tackles the challenge of the prestigious domestic cup competition.

Keen said: “Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been great to see four or five of the lads go up and play for Dmitri [Halajko] in the U23s.

“We’ve had the rest of the lads with us as U18s, so it’s been nice to have a couple of days in the lead-up to the game to get everyone together and ensure we have that all-important organisation.”

Keen is the second season of his fifth spell at the Club in various guises, having rejoined the Academy of Football in the summer of 2019 as U18s lead coach.

We want to show that with hard work and determination, we’ll be able to get through to the next round

Kevin Keen

Knowing the value that West Ham United supporters place on hard work, he is looking for his side to get the fundamentals right on Thursday night.

“I think our U18s squad is reasonably strong this season,” Keen explained. “If they stick together and have a real go as a team, I’m hopeful that we can do well.

“We want to show that with hard work and determination, we’ll be able to get through to the next round.”

The U18s' opposition on Thursday evening, Luton Town U18s, regularly play their football in the U18 Youth Alliance League and currently sit top of the South Eastern section, boasting 21 points from their opening eleven fixtures.

In the dugout for the young Hatters will be Luton’s Professional Development Phase coach Dan Walder, who helps oversee a programme that has produced the likes of Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis in recent years.

The winner of Thursday’s game will progress to the fourth round proper, where ties must be played before 18 January 2021.

West Ham United Under-18s take on Luton Town Under-18s on Thursday 3 December in a behind-closed-doors fixture. Kick-off is at 7pm; you can follow all the action with our live blog on whufc.com from 6.30pm.

Please note that this Academy fixture will be played behind-closed-doors. Only key personnel will be admitted on site and the match will be played without supporters present, in line with safety guidelines and social distancing measures in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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