West Ham U23 manager Dmitri Halajko has praised three youngsters for their performances in the win over Valencia B. The young Hammers beat Valencia B 1-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge’s ground on Wednesday night in the Premier League International Cup.
Halajko’s options were depleted last night due to players on international duty and with their loan clubs. Therefore, he had to make do without the likes of Aji Alese, Ben Johnson and Conor Coventry.
West Ham were forced into playing a makeshift back four after Reece Hannam withdrew late in the game. Harrison Ashby came in for Hannam for his competitive U23 debut. Meanwhile, Keenan Appiah-Forson and Jamal Baptiste also made their debuts for the U23 team.
Ashby had only just returned from representing Scotland U19 against Japan but he was forced to fill in at centre-back, even though his favoured position is right-back. Meanwhile, Appiah-Forson operated at right-back, even though he is a midfielder.
Halajko on West Ham’s young trio
Halajko was proud of his makeshift defence and he told whufc.com: “We brought in Harrison who’s just come back off international duty with Scotland U19s to play in [central defence], and Jamal, who’s only 15-years-old and played centre-half alongside him.
“Harrison normally plays right-back, Keenan normally plays centre midfield, Jamal hasn’t played at this level before, so for them to gel together today and keep a clean sheet is a massive achievement.”
All three players are showing positive signs for the future. Valencia are a talented side and West Ham had two 17-year-olds (both out of position) and a 15-year-old in defence. They still managed to keep a clean sheet.
Baptiste, aged just 15, has got to be one to watch. Despite playing against opposition players up to eight years his senior, Baptiste held his own and contributed to a clean sheet. West Ham could have a real talent on their hands.