Monday 18 Oct
Updated Monday 18 Oct 10:52

Freddie Potts: I’m relishing the challenge with West Ham United U23s

Freddie Potts

With typical maturity, Freddie Potts is embracing every challenge he faces with West Ham United U23s this season.

The deep-lying midfielder made his return from injury in the development squad’s 3-2 win over Exeter City U23s on Wednesday evening, having missed the previous eight games with a calf strain.

Playing the first hour against physically imposing opposition, Potts battled well and helped his team win control of the game in the second half, in which they eventually overturned a 2-1 deficit inside the last five minutes of play.

The 18-year-old has enjoyed rapid progress since making his U23s debut against Tottenham Hotspur in January – and will come up against the same team on Monday evening, away at the Lamex Stadium, in Premier League 2 Division 1.

After making seven consecutive starts in the league last season, and signing his first professional contract over the summer, competing in such occasions is the level Potts aspires to return to.

“Wednesday was a very good win,” Potts told “Coming back in the last five minutes, the boys did really well. 

“It was tough at the start. It was a really tough challenge, coming up against a team that we never really face in the league in terms of the style they play in, especially with the fact they had a few senior professionals, a few older players who had been through the Football League. 

“That provided us with a really good challenge. I thought we started a bit slow in the first half but dealt with it pretty well in the second half. As the game went on, the more chances we had, and as the game went on, we looked like the better side. 

“In the first half they did show they had more experience and were stronger physically, but in the second half we did a lot better on the ball, creating chances and getting on the ball, and late on we put our chances away.

“It was a massive challenge for myself, playing against a type of team that I’ve never really played against. I found it quite hard, quite challenging to be honest, but that’s what you want as an 18-year-old coming through the ranks. 

“To play against a team like that in my first game back is something that’ll stand me in good stead for the games coming up. We’ve got Tottenham in the league on Monday, then Manchester United the weekend after that, so it was a good challenge to prepare me for those games coming up.”

Freddie Potts has a header saved against Exeter
Freddie Potts has a header saved against Exeter

Having now recovered from his injury, kicking on is the goal for Potts, who – despite being only a second-year Scholar in terms of typical age group – has more than earned his status as a fully-fledged professional at this point.

The teenager is keen to build on that promising first half-season in U23s football and help his team compete in the upper echelons of Premier League 2.

Reflecting on his 60-minute return, Potts explained: “That’s what was asked of me, an hour, and I said ‘yeah, I can do that’. I’d been training well, I’d been training all week before that, and I felt fine in myself. 

“I felt, coming off afterwards, a little tired, but I just wanted to leave it out on the pitch and I thought I did that myself. Training’s been good, and the result was good for us as a team as well.

“The goal is to kick on and get back to where I was. I want to get to the point where I’m starting for the U23s every game – that’s the target I’ve set myself this season. 

“We’ve got a really good squad, really good players in every position with really good depth, which is great for the team.

“It’s going to push us forwards as players because we need that competition amongst ourselves, and that’ll be really good for our development, which will show this season. 

“We were third in the table at the start of the weekend, and we can see that kind of competition is helping us with the results showing through.”

West Ham United kick off against Tottenham Hotspur at 7pm on Monday 18 October at Lamex Stadium. Tickets can be purchased for this fixture via the Stevenage FC website

If you're unable to attend, we will have live blog coverage on from 6.30pm and updates on the key moments on our Twitter channel, plus post-match reaction and highlights over the course of Monday night and Tuesday morning.

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