West Ham U23s have only lost one match this season.
Under the leadership of Dmitri Halajko, West Ham are flying high in the league and have only lost to Cheltenham Town in the EFL Trophy. But Wednesday night presents them with their hardest challenge of the season.
West Ham host Wolfsburg in the Premier League International Cup. Having beaten Valencia, the Hammers now take on German side Wolfsburg. But Wolfsburg dispatched Valencia 4-0 earlier this month so West Ham need to be on top form.
This is a perfect opportunity to underline the team’s promotion credentials. And for some first-team fringe players like Nathan Holland, a top performance could catch Manuel Pellegrini’s eye.
Dmitri Halajko on Wolfsburg
Hammers U23 coach Halajko is aware that it will be a tough encounter. After the 4-0 win over Valencia, Wolfsburg’s second-string side will return to England sensing blood against the in-form Irons.
Speaking to whufc.com, Halajko said: “It’s Wolfsburg’s ‘B’ team I believe we’re playing. I think they beat Valencia 4-0 in the other game, and Valencia were a strong side when we played them, so it’s looking like a real, real tough test for us.
“We’ll therefore go into the game wanting to try and dominate the ball as much as we can. To do that we have to win it back, nice and early, sit on the ball and play some of the nice, attacking football we’ve done at times this season.”
Nathan Holland has point to prove
For players like Holland, this is an ideal opportunity to prove a point to Pellegrini. The 21-year-old should arguably have been given more game time than he has with just one senior appearance under his belt this season.
West Ham’s senior side are struggling with their form in the Premier League and could use Holland’s injection of pace. The former Everton winger is in top form for the U23s and will hope to take this into the game against Wolfsburg.
After scoring the winner against Valencia, Holland will be eyeing more success in the Premier League International Cup. Another masterclass would nudge Pellegrini. Holland cannot be ignored forever.