Jarrod Bowen: I felt sharp out there
Jarrod Bowen was delighted to get back out on the pitch as West Ham United's pre-season programme got underway with a 2-2 draw at Dundee on Friday.
The Hammers' preparations for an exciting 2021/22 campaign ahead in the Premier League and Europe began at Dens Park, where a blend of youth and experience fought hard to come from 2-0 down to claim a share of the spoils.
Bowen, now entering his second full season in Claret & Blue, was at the heart of the comeback, supplying the corner for Jamal Baptiste's goal before winning, and converting, a 67th minute penalty.
With a goal, and assist and 70 minutes of action in the tank, Bowen was satisfied with his afternoon's work.
"It was good to be back out there," he said. "I think I got 70 minutes in the end, and I felt like I could have gone on and done 90 to be honest.
"I was enjoying it out there, which is probably strange to hear for the first pre-season game, but I felt really good and sharp.
"People might say the result isn't important at this stage, but I think that the winning mentality of not losing the game sticks with all the players.
"So to come back from 2-0 down and bring it back to 2-2 was great for everyone involved and the young lads coming through too - Jamal scored today which was nice for him.
"It was a good game, a good bit of action, good goals, and we didn't lose."
Bowen ended last season with eight goals to his name, just two behind joint top-scorers Michail Antonio and Tomáš Souček, and he was happy to open his account for the summer in Scotland.
"It's always nice to get that first pre-season goal," he continued. "I had a couple of chances in the first half, so to get that penalty, score the goal and set up Jamal's one too was good.
"It's always a personal one to get that first goal and assist as well, so it's been a good day."
With the Irons' international players yet to report back for pre-season, the training camp in St Andrews this week provided an opportunity for the club's youngsters to shine and Bowen was impressed with how they grasped the chance.
"The fact so many of the young players got good minutes was great," he reflected. "You look at Nathan Holland in the first half and he was really bright and lively, and that's been a feature all week of the younger lads who have been given the opportunity to come here with us.
"I know I'm not an old, old senior pro but I've been there as a young lad coming through and you want those minutes in pre-season.
"You've got to take every opportunity and I feel like everyone did that today."
Friday's friendly, which saw 20 players get valuable minutes in their legs, was a positive end to a productive week of training north of the border and Bowen is looking forward to kicking on further as the new campaign approaches.
"It's been a good week," he confirmed. "The weather has been quite kind to us as in it's been quite cold, so for the running it's been good. It's been a good week, a tough week and it's what you need when you come back.
"You need that first hard week and you need those first hard minutes. We'll go back now, we've got a few more games coming up in pre-season and every day is a chance to get fitter, get stronger and keep improving."