Last week, West Ham travelled to Rodney Parade and beat Newport County 2-0 in the EFL Cup. Now, tonight, West Ham’s U21 team take on Newport in the EFL Trophy.
It is a group stage game for the young Irons and a chance to prove themselves against senior players. If anyone impresses significantly, it could catch Manuel Pellegrini’s eye.
West Ham’s youngsters will be aiming for success in tonight’s clash and there will be a few individuals on Pellegrini’s radar. West Ham will be without Conor Coventry and Goncalo Cardoso due to international duty but others will be on show. Here are five who can prove their point with a top performance tonight.
Pellegrini included Ben Johnson in his pre-season trip to China and used him heavily in the summer’s friendly matches. The 19-year-old is yet to feature this season but can catch Pellegrini’s eye tonight.
Johnson was an unused substitute in last week’s win at Rodney Parade. Tonight, he will be the key man, whether that is at right-back, left-back or as a central defender.
Dan Kemp nearly left West Ham on loan before the transfer window shut. But the diminutive left-footed winger is staying in East London and he has an outside chance of getting first-team appearances under his belt.
The 20-year-old has already scored one and assisted another this season. Tonight will give Pellegrini an indication of his ability to perform in a senior environment.
Joe Powell is another player who failed to complete a late-summer loan move away from West Ham. Last season, he spent time with Northampton Town and he will be hoping to replicate his form against League Two opposition again.
The 20-year-old has played one game for the senior side, providing two assists against Macclesfield Town. If the left-footed versatile midfielder can impress against the Exiles, it might convince Pellegrini to give him another run in the first-team.
West Ham fans have been desperately asking for Nathan Holland to get a first-team promotion. The 21-year-old winger has made U23 football look easy and he has been kept around instead of heading out on loan.
Hammers supporters were disappointed that Holland missed out on last week’s clash with Newport. This is his opportunity to show Pellegrini he made a mistake and stake his claim to take Michail Antonio’s place in the senior squad.
West Ham’s striker situation is an interesting one and it could open an unlikely door for Anthony Scully. Javier Hernandez departed while Xande Silva and Michail Antonio are out injured.
With Oladapo Afolayan out on loan and Sean Adarkwa injured, Scully is in line to start for West Ham in the centre-forward role tonight. The 19-year-old is predominantly an attacking midfielder but he could stake a claim to be West Ham’s third striker with a goalscoring performance.