Will Greenidge looking forward to ‘interesting’ Premier League Cup challenge

Will Greenidge is excited to see what challenges the Premier League Cup holds for West Ham United U23s this season.

The Hammers’ development squad are taking part in the cup competition for the first time since the 2016/17 season, kicking off with a group-stage trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday lunchtime.

West Ham’s U23s took part in the Premier League International Cup for the three subsequent seasons but, following its temporary suspension, have once again entered the Premier League Cup – the domestic equivalent of the competition, and a tournament they last won six years ago.

Dmitri Halajko’s will face one of Plymouth Argyle or Exeter City, as well as Swansea City and Wolves, in home and away group-stage matches between September and February – and Greenidge is looking forward to facing teams outside of Premier League 2 Division 1.

“It’ll be interesting to play some different teams and see how they play,” the defender told whufc.com.

“There are some longer trips in our group as well which are always interesting! But it’ll be fun. 

“It’s all about development so I’m looking forward to it, and I know the other boys will be too.

Greenidge goes into Friday’s game off the back of his first-ever goal as an Academy professional – either as an U18 or U23s player – in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Chelsea at Rush Green.

I’ve been doing all I can in training, everything, just to get into the side, because obviously this squad is so strong this year

Will Greenidge

In more recent years a full-back, Greenidge was deployed most often in pre-season as a centre-back and started the last match in that position, finding himself well-placed to sweep home from a spilt corner kick inside four minutes.

The goal capped an all-round impressive display by the 19-year-old, whose hard work on the training pitch saw him break into Halajko’s starting eleven in the third game of the season.

“It’s definitely been a while since I last scored!” Greenidge laughed.

“I was just in the box, waiting for the ball to come in. The keeper came out, caught it – then dropped it, and I was in the right place at the right time! I swung my foot at it and it found the back of the net – natural instinct!

“I’ve been doing all I can in training, everything, just to get into the side, because obviously this squad is so strong this year. I think I did myself justice with how I played against Chelsea so hopefully I’ll get more minutes as the season continues – but it was a good day all-round.”

After Chelsea equalised midway through the first half, Greenidge and the Hammers suffered another set-back early in the second as captain – and fellow centre-back – Aji Alese had to be stretchered off with a head injury he is now recovering well from.

But the team in Claret and Blue showed tremendous determination in adversity to go on and win the game through Harrison Ashby in the ninth minute of stoppage time – as well as bouncing back at the first time of asking from defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion the previous week.

Greenidge confirmed: “It was a great team performance and we really showed everything you need for a win: the grit, the determination, and being good on the ball.

“We picked ourselves up after the Brighton game. We knew that the second half in that one wasn’t good enough or up to our usual standards, and we worked well in training on improving ourselves. 

“We studied Chelsea, knew what they were about, and knew that if we executed the gameplan like we did, we’d come away with a result.

“One thing that stood out for us was our pressing – they didn’t want to play out because we really put them under pressure and eventually we got our reward for that.

“Everyone was buzzing! It’s always great to get a result against a top team, and the way we went about it – we stuck together as a team – just makes it even better. 

“Now, we’ve all just been wishing Aji best wishes – we’re looking forward to having him back sooner rather than later.”

West Ham United U23s’ match against Wolves U23s kicks off at 2pm on Friday 3 September at the Aggborough Stadium. Tickets can be purchased via the Kidderminster Harriers website

You can also follow proceedings with our live blog on whufc.com from 1.30pm and Twitter updates, and there will be the usual array of post-match reaction and highlights pieces available over Friday evening and Saturday morning.

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