Patrick Kelly was delighted with the intensity demonstrated by West Ham United U21s as the young Hammers convincingly beat Feyenoord 3-0 in the Premier League International Cup.
After a difficult start to the 2022/23 season, Mark Robson’s young side have signed off the first-half of the season in fantastic form, winning their last three matches in all competitions.
The U21s were keen to play on the front foot, and Kelly suggested that the Hammers’ aggressive approach was key to their success against the Dutch outfit.
“It was a good game,” Kelly told whufc.com. “From the very start, Robbo just wanted us to press high and I think we did that really well. They kept giving the ball back to us, which demonstrated that the press worked, and we were clinical with our chances.
“I was happy to be out there playing. It was good to be a bit higher up the pitch for the U21s. I had a good experience in the more defensive role last time but it was good to get this game under my belt, and to be back out there.”
Divin Mubama has played a key role in the young Irons’ recent form, with the striker recording five goals in his last three appearances, including a hat-trick against Feyenoord on Tuesday night.
The West Ham striker has been a key fixture in the U21s side this season, and Kelly is looking to line up alongside Mubama more often. The midfielder is keen to force his way into the team on a regular basis after making his second start for Robson’s side.
“I’m buzzing for Divin,” Kelly reflected. “I told him before the game that I was expecting him to get a few goals, and I was happy to set up his first for him. It was a great strike. He got the other two as well, and they were both very, very good goals. They were all great finishes and it was great for him to get the hat-trick.
“It means a lot to play for the U21s. We’ve seen a lot of young players doing well and progressing through the Academy. Ollie Scarles and Divin got their first team debuts just a couple of weeks ago, so you know the pathway is there if you can get into the U21s, work hard and play well. For me, it’s about trying to stay in this team and playing the best I can every week.”
The U21 side are not in action again until 2023 as a result of the World Cup break, and whilst Kelly ultimately seeks a regular place in the U21 side, the midfielder's attention will now turn to Saturday’s U18 match against Leicetster.
The Irishman has played a key role for the young side so far this term, with the young Hammers currently top of the U18s Premier League South table, having won all six league matches so far.
Kelly concluded: “A few of us younger ones will keep playing with the U18s, which I think is better for us. We’ve got some big games coming up, starting with Saturday. We’re all looking forward to it.”