West Ham United U23s midfielder Freddie Potts cannot wait to walk out at London Stadium on Monday evening.
The Hammers’ development squad open their Premier League 2 Division 1 season tonight with the first competitive fixture at London Stadium in 2021/22, kicking off at 7pm.
And with tickets on sale to West Ham fans – and free for Season Ticket Holders and Claret Members – 17-year-old Potts, who signed his first professional contract over the summer, cannot wait to play in front of the Claret and Blue Army for the first time since early 2020.
“I think it’s going to be one of my biggest highlights from the last few seasons,” Potts beamed.
“Playing at the London Stadium is a massive thing for us Academy players, whether that’s for the U23s or first-team. It’s going to be a massive achievement for us.
“Having supporters there at the Stadium is going to be a great part of that. A lot of us might not have played in front of many fans before, so it’s going to be a new challenge and it’ll be a really good experience for us as players.
“Training’s been very competitive this week because we know we’ve got a massive squad, and everyone’s been fighting for their place to take on Arsenal at London Stadium for the first time!
“Everyone’s trained well and trained hard to try and solidify their place in the team, and we can’t wait for the season to start.”
The midfielder made his first start of 2021/22 in last week’s 2-1 win over Millwall, a victory which marked the young Hammers’ fourth out of seven in pre-season – as well as their 17th and 18th goals in that time.
Having returned from an injury sustained against Manchester City in April, Potts was forced to self-isolate for two weeks last month, but is now fit again and feeling sharp ahead of the season opener.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be back out there,” Potts observed.
“I pretty much missed all the pre-season games was hard to take, but it was just really important to get that first start coming into the season against Arsenal. It was really important to get some more minutes in the tank.
“I think the U23s is where I want to be this season and I want to have the chance to stand out in the U23s squad. Playing in pre-season games like the one against Millwall provided us with a real test – last week, against a different kind of side who sat deep.
“I think it’s really important in games like that for me to prove myself as to why I did sign that pro contract and why I can push on now to impress in the U23s.”
West Ham’s U23s squad ran it close when it came to securing Premier League 2 Division 1 survival last season, with their first season back in development football’s top-flight ending in an eleventh-placed finish after collecting 15 league points from a possible final 24.
We really want to push on and be one of the stronger teams in the league. We’re really excited for it to start
But with a fresh season dawning, Potts believes that he and his team-mates have the talent, the application and the desire to channel those experiences into a more positive season to come, starting with Monday’s game at home to Arsenal.
He concluded: “We stand in real good stead for this season.
“We’ve trained well and we’ve had a really strong pre-season. Our results have shown that. We’re really excited for the start of the season – for me, it could be one of my best yet.
“We did well to stay up last season, but we’re not looking to be casual with that or settle for being a mid-table team this time – we really want to push on and be one of the stronger teams in the league. We’re really excited for it to start.”
West Ham United U23s return to Premier League 2 Division 1 action against Arsenal at London Stadium on Monday 16 August, with kick-off at 7pm.
Tickets are free for Season Ticket Holders and Claret Members. For non-members, tickets are priced at £5 for Adults and £3 for Concessions/Under-16s. Click here to book or click here for further information.