West Ham under-21s include Antonio
- Credit: Archant
First-teamer set for development league outing
West Ham new boy Michail Antonio is set to feature for the club’s under-21s against Newcastle at Upton Park tonight (7pm).
Antonio joined from Championship side Nottingham Forest last month and came off the bench as Slaven Bilic’s men beat Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday.
But as he is ineligible to play in the Capital One Cup tie at Leicester tomorrow, he will get a run out with the development league squad.
Entry into the Boleyn Ground is free for everyone and the young Hammers will be looking for their first points of the campaign in front of a strong home crowd.
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Terry Westley’s side have been struggling in the second division of Development football, since being relegated from the top tier earlier in the calendar year.
They were unlucky to lose 4-3 against Blackburn last week and Westley told the official club website: “Playing at the Boleyn Ground is always a big thing for any player and a great experience particularly for our younger players.
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“Already this season we’ve played at the Emirates and Ewood Park and that certainly gave the home side a lift.”
The Academy boys will certainly be looking to get three points, with disappointing performances already clouding the beginning of the campaign.
The Irons will not want a repeat of the 5-0 thrashing they suffered against Arsenal last month and Westley remains confident this will not be the case.
He added: “Hopefully we’ll get that little bit extra in front of a decent home crowd and get the result our performances have merited.”
First-team captain Mark Noble added his support in a special video message, saying: “Please, if you’ve got a spare evening, go and watch the boys because I know how much it meant to me when there was a big crowd at Upton Park when I played there.
“They’re the future for this club, and it would be lovely for you to go and watch it.”
Newcastle’s youngsters have also been struggling and are also looking for their first win of the season.
Brighton’s under-21s are the only other side yet to pick up any points, as Arsenal lead the table with four wins out of four.
Several of West Ham’s under-21 team featured in the shortlived Europa League qualification campaign and are expected to start under the East London lights.
Elliot Lee, Djair Parfitt-Williams and Martin Samuelsen are among the hot prospects to have tasted European football earlier in the summer.
However, it is the defensive side of things that Westley will need to have worked on as 13 goals have already been conceded at an early stage of the season, four more than any other side in the division.