Alfie Lewis: We've set our targets and we're on course to achieve them
West Ham United U23s play host to Norwich City U23s on Monday night in a crunch Premier League 2 Division 2 clash that could see the Hammers further assert their title credentials entering the final quarter of the season.
As it stands, the gap to second-placed Manchester United U23s has grown to three points, although Dmitri Halajko’s Hammers have played a game more than their promotion rivals.
Tonight’s encounter with Norwich City is the final match for the U23s at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, with their two remaining home fixtures - against Swansea and Middlesbrough - set to take place at London Stadium.
When the two sides met back in October, West Ham ran out 4-1 winners, but the visitors head to East London in a rich vein of form, having won three of their last five games in the league.
Training every day is of a high standard and everyone is working really hard to make sure we stay ahead of chasing pack
At the heart of the Irons' midfield in the reverse fixture was Alfie Lewis, the 20-year-old who has been a regular starter under Halajko this season.
With West Ham continuing to lead the title charge and into the Premier League International Cup quarter-finals, Lewis has been pleased with how the side's campaign has shaped up thus far.
“We feel that we’ve done really well up to this point,” he explained.
“Before the season we set our targets, and we’re still very much on course to achieve them. I think we have performed really well in both the league and the Premier League International Cup.”
Despite conceding an agonisingly late equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Stoke City U23s last time out at London Stadium, Lewis insists the team remain in high spirits ahead of a crucial month in pursuit of both league and cup.
“The mood in the squad has been really positive,” Lewis said. “Training every day is of a high standard.
"Everyone is working really hard to make sure we stay ahead of chasing pack and get as far as we can in the International Cup - starting with our quarter-final against Derby next Tuesday!”
The 20-year-old made his Premier League 2 debut back in February 2016, and has since gone on to make over 50 appearances at development squad level.
With a wealth of experience behind him, despite his tender years, Lewis takes great pride in assisting some of the players who are his junior with the step up from U18s level.
“I really enjoy helping some of the younger members of the squad. I always try to be positive towards them and help them out however I can.
"We’ve obviously lost Nathan [Holland], Conor [Coventry] and Dan [Kemp] on loan, but the younger boys have stepped in and done really well.”
The return of long-term injury absentees Xande Silva, Sean Adarkwa and Mesaque Dju has also helped to add further firepower to the Hammers' front line, and Lewis is pleased to see his teammates return to the pitch.
“The three of them have come back in and made a real difference," he noted.
"They know exactly how we play, and they're experienced players as well, so they are really going to help us out between now and the end of the season.”
On a personal level Lewis himself is enjoying a fine campaign. Across all competitions the creative midfielder has found the net six times – his best return in Claret and Blue.
“Adding goals to my game is something I’ve tried to work on this year and thankfully it’s paid off!” Lewis smiled. “I want to get more during the title run-in so I’m definitely looking forward to the games ahead.”
West Ham United U23s against Norwich U23s kicks off at Dagenham & Redbridge's Chigwell Construction Stadium at 7pm on Monday 2 March.