A long three months are finally over for Junior Robinson.
The forward-thinking right-back made his first start since July as West Ham United U21s beat Feyenoord 3-0 in the Premier League International Cup on 15 November, having returned after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a foot injury.
A win, a clean sheet, and 90 minutes under his belt meant Robinson was delighted come the final whistle at Chigwell Construction Stadium in Dagenham.
“These are the games everyone wants to play in,” the 18-year-old smiled. “When you are playing against a European team you want to show you can compete.
“The game plan worked perfectly. It’s our last game for a while as well, so it’s good to finish with a win. It is always great to get a clean sheet too.”
For Robinson, there was a sense of personal pride too.
One of seven Academy prospects to sign professional terms last May, the young full-back was proud to make his first competitive start since scoring twice in an U18 Premier League South win over Norwich City in May.
“It has been a long three months,” Robinson recalled. “But I am so glad to be back. It is my first start in a while.
"It’s been tough as it was my first major injury. Every day you are thinking about playing again so, when it comes, it’s beautiful."
A solid defensive showing from the back-five saw the U21s conclude a second successive match with a clean sheet. It means the last three fixtures have brought two Premier League 2 Division 1 and one Premier League International Cup wins, seven goals for and just one conceded.
The run has been a welcome reward for the U21s performances over the past few weeks, and the teenager is eager to extend it when the Irons return to action in the New Year, following an extended break for the FIFA World Cup finals.
"Last year we weren’t used to losing,” Robinson stated, alluding to last season's second-place finish in Premier League 2 Division 1. “We have been playing well every game but to win on top of that is great and important as well.
“Hopefully, when we come back, there will be many more.”