Dmitri Halajko: Under-23s will be looking to address inconsistencies

Steve Potts and Dmitri Halajko

There are few feelings more frustrating in football than putting in the requisite hard work to win a game, only to miss out in crucial moments.

West Ham United Under-23s return to action on Friday afternoon still seeking their first win in this season’s Premier League 2 competition, despite having played well to put themselves in several promising positions within matches.

In their last game before the international break, at home to Brighton & Hove Albion three weeks ago, the young Irons undoubtedly enjoyed the majority of the play and chances over the 90 minutes, only to concede some disappointing goals on the way to a 3-2 loss.

The Hammers’ opening fixture list encompassed no fewer than five consecutive away games, however, a tricky run of games with which to open their first season back in the top division of Premier League 2.

Now, lead coach Dmitri Halajko has called on his players to channel their frustration from before the break to positive effect against Blackburn.

“I think in so much of our play, we’ve been competent at the top level of Premier League 2, if not above the level,” Halajko reflected, speaking after the Brighton defeat.

“In other aspects of our play, we’ve been below the level required, so it’s that inconsistency really we need to address to move forward. 

“We’ve had some parts of our game which have been at the right level and even exceeded that, but other aspects have been below what we’ve needed, and that has been the cause of our frustration so far. 

“You’re not going to progress as a team if that continues to happen, so we’ll be looking to address it.”

At Rush Green, West Ham will welcome a Blackburn U23s side who have made a strong start to their season, with three wins from four matches played.

Under head coach Billy Barr, Rovers have recorded some impressive results, beating Manchester City 2-1 in their opening game before putting four past a talented Leicester City team.

Nevertheless, Halajko believes that the international break will have served his team well as they seek to convert their series of strong displays into points to push them up the table.

“I think it could be good for us,” he explained. “We haven’t had a long period of training together as a squad yet, so we’ll be looking to work on the cohesion of the team.

“Hopefully, against Blackburn, we’ll have been able do to that and get ourselves all on the same page, which hopefully should enhance our performances moving forwards.”

West Ham United Under-23s take on Blackburn Rovers Under-23s on Friday 23 October in a behind-closed-doors fixture. Kick-off is at 2pm; you can follow all the action with our live blog on from 1.30pm.

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

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