Bernardo Rosa is hoping that he and his teammates showcase their quality in West Ham United U23s’ final fixture of pre-season, recognising what could be at stake.
The Hammers’ development squad play host to Millwall U23s at Rush Green Stadium on Tuesday afternoon aware that, in just six days’ time, they will be kicking off their Premier League 2 campaign under the bright lights of London Stadium.
The U23s begin their league season at the home of West Ham United’s first team on Monday 16 August, when they will take on Arsenal.
Rosa and his teammates will be hoping to carry into the game their promising pre-season form which has seen them enjoy several big wins – the biggest a 5-1 win over Southend United – and some promising displays against senior Football League opposition.
But the Brazilian knows that, with just Tuesday’s game against Millwall to go and with so many players in-form at present, a final good display could be decisive in making the teamsheet for the season opener.
“It’s been a good pre-season – everyone’s been running a lot!” Rosa smiled, speaking to whufc.com.
“Everyone is looking fit and sharp and we’ve been good with the ball. It’s been a good pre-season and I think we’ve shown that in how we’ve played in our games as well.
“We have a lot of players this season who could make the starting eleven, so everyone’s working hard, every single day, to get into the team.
“Whoever makes it in there will have done a great job, and I think we’re going to have a strong team for that first match. It’ll be a big game and hopefully I can be a part of it.”
Rosa scored his second goal of pre-season in the 3-0 win over Birmingham City U23s on Friday afternoon, what ultimately proved a comprehensive win over last season’s Professional Development League national champions.
“I think we played well,” he recalled. “Especially in the second half, we controlled the game and I grabbed myself a goal. That’s important for me.
“The first game of the season is coming and it’s good for my confidence and for the team as well it was a good victory. We’ll keep it going on Tuesday.”
The 20-year-old Rosa – a versatile player who has excelled as a holding, box-to-box or attacking midfielder at various times in Academy fixtures, as well as an auxiliary full-back – is approaching his third full season of development football.
The former Vasco de Gama and CR Flamengo youth product understands that, with an influx of new scholars and Academy signings around him, it is important to channel all his experience so far into the new campaign.
He said: “I’m one of the oldest players in the squad now, so I hope to encourage the younger lads every day.
“I’ve played a lot of games in U23s so I have a little bit more experience. I’m just trying to help them so we can get wins on the board as a team.
“My goal is always to play as much as possible, not get injured and play well when I can. Whatever happens will happen from there. The first thing I can do is just to be fit and play as much and as well as possible.”
Tuesday afternoon’s match against Millwall U23s at Rush Green Stadium will be played behind closed doors, with kick-off at 4pm, but you’ll be able to find a full match report, reaction and highlights on whufc.com over the course of the Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.