Levi Laing: U18s will remain focused in Youth Cup

When West Ham United U18s resume their FA Youth Cup campaign against Arsenal U18s on Friday evening, defender Levi Laing is likely to encounter some familiar faces.

The 18-year-old centre-back – who is also comfortable as a full-back or a defensive midfielder – had been with the junior Gunners since 2016 after joining them from Brentford.

Since transitioning to the Irons in January, initially on trial, Laing has gone on to make ten appearances in Claret and Blue – including playing the full 90 minutes of the Youth Cup fourth-round win over Norwich City at Carrow Road, which finished 5-0 to his side.

Now, as the young Hammers prepare for their fifth-round tie against Arsenal – a game being shown live, from 7pm, on the West Ham YouTube channel and whufc.com – Laing has called on his teammates to retain the intensity that led to that victory.

Laing told whufc.com: “We’ll just keep our heads down and remained focused in the Youth Cup. 

“Hopefully we can get a good result against Arsenal, and if we do, push on and hopefully keep that Cup run going. We’d love to show everybody what we can do and how good we are as a team.”

The defender’s last outing in Claret and Blue came with the U23s squad as a second-half substitute in their 3-2 win over Manchester United – one of six youth team players to feature for the Hammers at Leigh Sports Village at the weekend.

Laing had previously featured for Dmitri Halajko’s U23s team against Derby earlier in the season, while the 18-year-old has also recorded seven appearances in U18 Premier League South already for Kevin Keen’s U18s team.

The youngster – who describes himself as a “defender first and foremost" who "loves a header and a tackle” – has relished his time in east London thus far under the tutelage of both coaches.

Laing hopes to repay their faith by continuing to work hard to keep up his good start to life at the Academy of Football.

“I’ve loved every minute of it so far,” Laing said. “Everyone’s been so welcoming to this Club. 

“Being with the U23s has been a big learning curve, but I’ve enjoyed it, and I’ve liked how everything is set up here with the U18s as well. I’ve been given opportunities and hopefully, so far, I’ve shown the coaches what I can do.

“I’m learning from all the coaches every day, but also they’ve helped me with how to position myself, particularly with all the attacking I’ve got to do when playing as a right-back.

"I’ve loved every minute of it, which is world-class, and I hope it continues.”

West Ham United U18s against Arsenal U18s kicks off at 7pm on Friday evening and, while the game will be played behind-closed-doors, you can still watch LIVE on the West Ham YouTube channel and whufc.com!

The winners of Friday’s tie will face a trip to either Leicester City’s King Power Stadium or Liverpool’s Anfield in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.

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