Freddie Potts: U23s play every game with positivity
West Ham United U23s defender Freddie Potts spoke defiantly following his team’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea U23s on Tuesday evening.
The Hammers went up against last season’s Premier League 2 Division 1 champions at Rush Green Stadium knowing that three points would be a real boon in their fight to escape the competition’s drop zone.
Despite facing top-quality opposition, Potts and his teammates put in a performance of real positivity, creating numerous chances including one which Kai Corbett capitalised on early in the second half to grant his team a deserved lead.
A combination of the woodwork, a goal-line clearance and a fine reflex save prevented West Ham from stretching that lead and, while Chelsea had their moments in the game, it was ultimately only a late penalty kick from George McEachran which meant the spoils were shared in east London.
Having played a big part on the right side of a resolute three-man defence, Potts is relishing the battle his team are in – Tuesday’s draw leaving them just three points inside the relegation places, with five games left to play.
Potts reflected: “I think we all had the same thought after the game, even the coaches: we could’ve got three points today.
“It came down to one little error in the box which led to a penalty, but other than that I thought we defended really well as a team and as a unit.
“We had chances at the other end. It could have gone our way, it could’ve been a 2-0 or 3-0 win – in my opinion, we should have got three points today.
“In this league, there’s never an easy game – especially against top teams like Chelsea, and even this week we have Manchester United away on Friday. Every game we look towards with positivity. We always know that we can come out with something.
“That showed today; we didn’t look at ourselves as the underdogs at all, even being bottom of the league, and I think that showed in our performance, especially coming away with the feeling we could’ve got three points from the game.”
Tuesday’s draw added to a recent 1-1 draw away at Liverpool and a 3-1 win over Leicester City U23s, all results which show that confidence is beginning to augment in the Hammers’ development squad.
Potts added: “We always look forward to games, especially now in this run of form where we’re starting to pick up points. We’ve got five points in our last three games.
“They’re all big games at this stage of the season. The way we can come out playing positively and on the front foot is really helping us, and I think that just proves itself in our recent results.”
As for the 17-year-old himself, the first-year scholar has become a fixture in the U23s side at right centre-back in recent weeks – an alternative position to the defensive midfield role he has regularly fulfilled for the youth team this season.
Potts, however, sees the variation of position as beneficial to his long-term development, citing the example of many of the Academy of Football’s products’ role models.
“It’s a different challenge for me,” he admitted.
“My normal position is as a midfielder really, so it’s always a different challenge being in defence, but I think being a versatile player – looking at players like Declan Rice who can do it in both defence and midfield – could really help my game, especially getting recognition from first-team staff and U23s staff.
“I’m not yet an U23s regular – I’m still an U18s player – and I think just trying to prove myself in whatever position I play is the most important thing.”
As for Friday, a trip to Manchester United’s Leigh Sports Village awaits, with the Hammers set to face an opponent they have enjoyed recent success against at development squad level.
“We’re unbeaten against Man United in the league in the last two seasons,” Potts recalled.
“We played at Old Trafford last season and got a point, beat them 2-0 at home last season and won this season at Rush Green, 2-0.
“We know that they’re a good side, but we know that we’re a good side, and definitely not just underdogs in the game.”