Academy of Football pre-season programme confirmed

The Academy of Football

The Academy of Football has confirmed this summer’s pre-season programme for West Ham United’s young professionals.

Both Professional Development Phase (PDP) sides – Dmitri Halajko’s Under-23s and Kevin Keen’s Under-18s – will kick-off their 2021/22 seasons in the first week of July with training camps in Loughborough, lasting six and five days respectively.

For the U23s, that stay will culminate in their first pre-season friendly, in which they will take on United Counties League side Loughborough University on Saturday 10 July.

Both squads will then face busy fixture schedules over the remainder of month as they ramp up preparations towards their next Premier League 2 and U18 Premier League South campaigns, which will begin mid-August.

Following their opening match against Loughborough University, the U23s will host fellow London academy side Charlton Athletic U23s on Saturday 17 July, kicking off at 11am at Rush Green.

Halajko’s squad will then travel to take on Southend United – whom they faced in this season’s Papa John’s Trophy group stages, winning 3-1 at Roots Hall in September – the following Friday (23 July), with a 7pm kick-off scheduled.

The subsequent Monday (26 July), the U23s will visit League Two team Crawley Town, before hosting National League club Aldershot Town on Friday 30 July – both matches slated to start at 7pm.

The development squad will then play their two final preparatory games – at home to Huddersfield ‘B’ on Tuesday 3 August (7pm kick-off), and a further fixture on Friday 6 August to be confirmed – ahead of the Premier League 2 season starting the following weekend.

West Ham United U18s

Keen’s U18s, meanwhile, will kick-off their pre-season fixture programme with an away game at Cambridge United, which will take place at 6pm on Friday 16 July.

Four days later, they will make the short journey east to take on Essex-based Isthmian League side Heybridge Swifts FC – once home to West Ham legends Billy Jennings and Julian Dicks – at 7pm on Tuesday 20 July.

On Saturday 24 July, Keen’s U18s will take part in a day-long festival of football at Little Heath Sports Ground, which will also involve sides from Millwall, Reading and Southend.

And after visiting Ipswich Town U18s the following Saturday (31 July) at 11am, the Academy team will travel to Mayesbrook Park in Barking to face Isthmian League side Romford FC on Tuesday 3 August (7pm kick-off). 

Keen’s U18s will conclude their pre-season fixture programme with a home game against Watford U18s on Saturday 7 August, kicking off at 11am at Little Heath.

While their 2020/21 league positions have yet to be fully finalised, both the U23s and U18s will head into the new season looking to carry forward their momentum from strong finishes to the domestic campaign.