West Ham United U23s head into Monday’s tricky-looking Premier League 2 Division 2 clash away at Reading full of confidence.
Off the back of arguably their finest display of the season so far – a 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Manchester United far – Dmitri Halajko’s side remain unbeaten at the top of the table.
A busy week at the Academy of Football followed last Monday’s stellar victory. Regular starters Conor Coventry and Nathan Holland both departed on loan to League One sides, before defenders Gonçalo Cardoso, Jeremy Ngakia and Bernardo Rosa all made the bench for the first team’s trip to Sheffield United.
Monday’s opponents Reading currently sit eighth in the league, and the reverse fixture saw the Hammers claim a convincing 3-0 win back in August.
I was really proud of performance against Manchester United; I’m so happy to help the team win such a big game. The mood after the game... I don’t think there’s anything like it
The Royals started fast that evening at the Chigwell Construction Stadium and West Ham U23s full-back Rosa is expecting another tough challenge in Berkshire.
“Reading are a really tough opponent,” he said. “We know that it’ll be a tough game and like every match we’re taking it very seriously.”
The Brazilian’s positive performances from right-back saw him nominated for November’s PL2 Player of the Month award. The 19-year-old has played an integral part in the U23s’ success so far, not least in his impressive display against Manchester United last time out.
“I was really proud of performance against Manchester United; I’m so happy to help the team win such a big game. The mood after the game... I don’t think there’s anything like it.
“After a performance like that everyone has confidence, and hopefully it doesn’t stop there!”
Rosa’s excellent form was rewarded with a spot amongst the first-team substitutes on Friday evening alongside teammates Ngakia and Cardoso. The defender prides himself on being ready should he be asked to make the step-up to senior level.
“It’s really important that I’m always prepared and working hard in training should the first team need me,” he said.
A steadfast defence has seen the U23s keep clean sheets in their last two league fixtures. Last week, popular defender Tunji Akinola returned to the starting eleven just over a year after his last appearance for the U23s.
Rosa was thrilled to see the 21-year-old back at the heart of the West Ham defence.
“Tunji is an amazing player and an even better person,” he smiled. “We’re very happy to have him back to help us for the rest of the season.”
Monday afternoon’s game kicks-off at 1pm and, as always, you can follow all the action on whufc.com.