Kamarai Swyer: Development squad are up to the challenge

Kamarai Swyer

Attacking midfielder Kamarai Swyer will have no fear when he and his teammates make the short journey east to Essex on Tuesday night.

West Ham United’s development squad are up against League Two team Colchester United in the Papa John’s Trophy group stages – but the prospect of facing senior opposition does not faze 18-year-old Swyer.

Indeed, the teenager, who made the step-up to development level football last season, is relishing the challenge, having already played 70 minutes of the U21s’ 2-1 win over Ipswich Town at Portman Road a fortnight ago.

Thanks to that result, the young Hammers travel to the JobServe Community Stadium well aware that another three points would see them seal qualification from Group A of the Papa John’s Trophy’s southern section.

They also go into the game off the back of a resilient showing in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace U23s on Friday.

“I think that result was a credit to all the boys because Crystal Palace are a good team,” Swyer told whufc.com. “They fought hard and played good football, and I think we just stuck in there, dug deep and got the result we wanted.

“I think obviously the boys were disappointed with the previous result [a 3-1 loss to Derby County U23s] – it definitely wasn’t what we wanted – but the win was definitely the best response, especially heading into our Papa John’s Trophy game at Colchester.

“Of course, against Colchester, we’re expecting a more physical game, but the boys are ready for that. We showed in the first game against Ipswich that we can deal with that, and we just need to show it again.”

The young Hammers last visited the JobServe Community Stadium at the same stage of the same competition last season, when a tense game of few chances was settled in West Ham’s favour by Conor Coventry’s 30-yard thunderbolt.

Even if there’s not as much space in possession, you just have to make sure you work hard and help the team as much as you can out of possession

Kamarai Swyer

As an exciting playmaker who wore the No10 shirt on Friday, Swyer is expecting another tight encounter on Tuesday – and will be adapting his game accordingly.

He smiled: “I think in a game like that you just have to help the team as much as you can.

“Even if there’s not as much space in possession, you just have to make sure you work hard and help the team as much as you can out of possession.”

The teenager may well be joined in the starting line-up by 17-year-old Sonny Perkins, who made his full debut against Palace having debuted at this level against Ipswich and scored his first goal last week.

Having only made his own development squad debut in October 2020, Swyer understands the step-up from youth team to U21s and U23s football.

“It’s definitely a big leap up!” he laughed. “Sonny was even saying to me at half-time how much he was aching and stuff, but I was saying ‘that’s exactly how I was feeling when I first came up, but you’ll get used to it – you just have to keep pushing’.

“There are countless opportunities here at West Ham and the doors are open, so you just have to step through them.”

As for his own progress, Swyer concludes: “I’m just trying to showcase myself as well as I can every time I play, and show the manager exactly what I’m about.”

West Ham United U21s’ match against Colchester United kicks off at JobServe Community Stadium at 7.30pm on Tuesday 28 September.  Away tickets are available to purchase via the Colchester United website and are priced at £12 for adults, £10 for 65+/Forces/NHS, £6 for U18s and £2 for U11s. 

The game is also available to stream live on Colchester's iFollow platform for £10.

Tickets and parking must be purchased online for Tuesday evening, parking in advance especially. 

You can also follow proceedings with our live blog on whufc.com from 7pm. 

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