West Ham United U23s midfielder Bernardo Rosa is looking forward to the Club’s first ever Premier League International Cup quarter-final, but knows that concentration is crucial in knock-out football competitions.
The 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder has enjoyed a plethora of experiences this campaign, starting the season in his accustomed creative midfield berth before enjoying a strong run of performances for the U23s as an auxiliary full-back.
His form across the first half of the season saw Rosa called up to West Ham manager David Moyes’ Premier League match-day squad at Sheffield United in January, before a reshuffling of the U23s that month led to him reverting to a regular midfield role for the development squad.
Versatile, hard-working and adaptable, Rosa knows his range of skills will be put to the test on Tuesday evening, when Dmitri Halajko’s U23s travel to Pride Park for their quarter-final against Derby County.
One mistake can be costly, we can get knocked out, so the concentration needs to be there. We must be focused, train hard – and we all need to practice our penalties, just in case!
Unbeaten in Premier League 2 Division 2 with only four games left of the campaign, Rosa is anticipating a different sort of test at Pride Park against Division 1 high-flyers Derby.
“It’s a different atmosphere when you play in a different cup,” Rosa explained.
“One mistake can be costly, we can get knocked out, so the concentration needs to be there. We must be focused, train hard – and we all need to practice our penalties, just in case!
“It’s nice to play in first-team stadiums and environments. The pitches are always good, you’ve got the fans there, and it’s going to be a really good game.
“It’s a massive match. We all want to win the competition, so hopefully we can win and go through to the semi-finals.”
Derby go into the encounter having won their previous game 6-0 against Middlesbrough U23s in the Premier League Cup to reach that competition’s quarter-finals.
West Ham, however, will also be full of confidence as they look to build on an excellent 4-0 win over Norwich U23s last week, a match which saw Rosa learn from the likes of Fabian Balbuena and Carlos Sanchez in the Hammers' line-up.
“It was a really good experience to play with some of the first-team,” Rosa explained. “They have a lot of experience and they help a lot, and you learn just from being on the pitch with them.”
One player who could potentially line up for the Rams in Tuesday night’s encounter is Rosa’s former West Ham teammate Jahmal Hector-Ingram, the young forward who departed the Club last summer.
Despite the two retaining the friendship borne from their time together at the Academy of Football, Rosa knows that, once the match is underway, they will turn rivals.
“It’ll be special to face Jahmal!” he smiled.
“He’s a good friend to all of us, but there’s no friends on the pitch once the whistle blows, so hopefully we can win against him, because it’s more important that we get through to the semi-finals.”
Should West Ham United U23s defeat Derby County, a semi-final fixture against Arsenal awaits in the semi-finals, after the Gunners emerged victorious against AS Monaco last week.
West Ham United U23s’ Premier League International Cup quarter-final against Derby County kicks off at Pride Park at 7pm on Tuesday 10 March. You can follow all the action through whufc.com's live blog from 6pm.
They will subsequently return to Premier League 2 Division 2 action against Swansea City at London Stadium on Monday 16 March, with kick-off 7pm. Tickets are free for Season Ticket Holders and Claret Members. For non-members, they are priced at £5 for Adults and £3 for Over-65s/Under-21s. Click here to book.