West Ham United U23s might have endured a difficult Sunday with a 3-0 defeat at Liverpool U23s, but for Regan Clayton, there could still be a measure of personal pride.
The 17-year-old left back has impressed greatly in his 26 appearances – and three goals – in all competitions for the U18s this season.
And having picked up his first assist at U23s level off the bench in the Premier League Cup win over Leeds United on Monday afternoon, Clayton was handed a first start in Premier League 2 on Merseyside.
The match itself proved a challenging one for the young Hammers collectively as they went down to a 3-0 defeat – Liverpool proving too strong on the day – but Clayton feels he will have benefitted from the experienced in the long term.
“It was a learning experience, a hundred per cent,” the teenager told whufc.com.
“I’m happy to make the step, but I feel like I definitely need to look back at the video of the match and improve on that, because that was a tough, tough game today.
“I can take so many things away from it though, like personal notes and things to work on.”
The young Hammers were forced to defend for large stretches of a game they struggled to get going in.
And despite coming out for the second half with a renewed vigour about them, having held their hosts to a 0-0 draw at half-time, three goals shortly after the interval put the game beyond them.
Clayton admitted: “I thought we started off slow and that carried on for the rest of the game, but I don’t think it was good from any of the boys today, especially myself.
“I think we tried to [come out and attack in the second half]. I think the first ten minutes of the second half was the best bit we had of the game.
“We came in at half-time and we’d stayed in the game, even though we didn’t have the ball for much of the first half, but then in the second half, Liverpool’s quality just took over.”
Being involved in both the U18s and U23s, Clayton still has much to play for in terms of the youth team’s title bid in U18 Premier League South, and the development squad’s Premier League Cup challenge.
He concluded: “For the U23s, we’ve got the Cup quarter-final on Friday [at home to Fulham], and hopefully we can progress in that.
“As U18s, we are still near the top of the league, so we’re hoping we can win that as well. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”