Dmitri Halajko: Under-23s’ performances have not been far away

Dmitri Halajko

West Ham United Under-23s lead coach Dmitri Halajko is confident that his side need only add a ruthless edge to transform positive performances into positive results.

The development squad travel to Southampton on Saturday afternoon for their third Premier League 2 game of the season, having suffered defeats in London derbies at Chelsea and Tottenham thus far.

Both contests were marred by uncharacteristic profligacy in front of goal from the young Hammers, who were prolific in their Premier League 2 Division 2 title success last season, averaging over three goals scored per league game.

While Halajko anticipates that lessons remain there to be learned for his players stepping up to Division 1 this season, he has also been encouraged by the nature of the early performances, adding that he feels his side are close to reversing their league form.

“We’re not far away,” the lead coach explained. “We’re talking about missing chances and not being ruthless enough in the final third – we’re not talking about poor displays all round. 

“There are some bits we’ve got to work on and if we can improve on those, we can turn results around. There’s not too much to work on, but there are the critical factors that do need to change. 

“We’ll work on it and I’ve got confidence that we can turn it around.”

The Irons face two tricky away tests to round off a busy September programme: Saturday’s behind-closed-doors game at Staplewood Training Ground, and subsequently a trip to the Colchester Community Stadium for their second EFL Trophy game of the season.

It’s a great opportunity for us to show what we’ve learned in our last two games. We have to improve from it, learn from it, and get better from it

Dmitri Halajko

Having made such a bright start to their EFL Trophy campaign with a 3-1 win at Southend United to open the month, Halajko has appreciated the developmental opportunities that the subsequent tight contests at Chelsea and Tottenham have provided.

Now, the lead coach has backed his players to show that they are taking the high calibre contests in their stride, starting with the trip to Southampton on Saturday.

He added: “It will be a tough game, as it always in in this division. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us to show what we’ve learned in our last two games. We have to improve from it, learn from it, and get better from it. 

“I think the lads will be excited to prove that they’ve learned lessons this season.”

West Ham United Under-23s take on Southampton Under-23s on Friday 26 September in a behind-closed-doors fixture. Kick-off is at 4.30pm; you can follow all the action with our live blog on from 3.30pm.

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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