Monday, 4 February 2008

Youth On The Rise

There was at least some good news this weekend when the U 18's recorded an impressive away victory against their Arsenal counterparts. Goals from Daniel Kearns and Freddie Sears helped West Ham United to a 2-0 victory against a strong Arsenal side on Saturday morning, thereby avenging a 6-1 home defeat in the previous meeting of the two clubs earlier this campaign.

After a slow start from both sides in the first 20 minutes, West Ham United broke the deadlock through Kearns. The young Northern Irishman cut inside from the left flank before scoring with a fierce low shot that was deflected past the home goalkeeper. Buoyed by the goal, the Hammers kept going and Kearns found himself well-placed with another opportunity - only for the keeper to save with his legs. Ollie Lee then had a good shot deflected wide for a corner as Carr's side finished the half strongly. The second half was barely a minute old when West Ham United carved their way through the middle. Jack Jeffery burst into the box only to be brought down. With the visitors appealing for a penalty, the quick-thinking Sears pounced to tuck the ball into the net as the referee played the advantage.

At that point, those involved would have been forgiven for thinking of the previous week's 3-3 home draw against Charlton Athletic when West Ham United let a two-goal lead slip. There was to be no repeat this time around as the resolute Hammers rearguard kept the home side at bay, limiting them to long-range efforts that never really troubled Adam Street, fully fit again after his collarbone injury. Tony Carr said: "It was a great result. It certainly avenges the disappointment somewhat of the way we lost the game earlier in the season. I was really pleased with our performance and thought we thoroughly deserved it. I was particularly pleased with how we approached the game and the way we played. We finished the game worthy winners. Two-nil up can be a dangerous scoreline because a goal the other way can turn the game in a minute. We were determined not to let that happen this week and so it proved. Bondz N'Gala and Josh Payne kept Freeman very quiet. He had a decent game but we limited his attempts on goal to shots from distance." N'Gala was playing his first game back at the club since finishing a temporary spell with Weymouth.

There was a further lift for the Academy when Junior Stanislas and Freddie Sears were added to the England Under-19 squad for a prestigious friendly against Croatia on Tuesday. With the more experienced James Tomkins already named in the Young Lions selection for the match in Swindon, the addition of 18-year-old duo Sears and Stanislas brings the West Ham United contingent to three. Jordan Spence, still only 17, has also been involved with the England U19s this season but has not been called this time. Academy director Tony Carr said: "This is great recognition for the club. We want our young lads to play for their country. It gives them confidence and helps them to push on from the youths to the senior side." He added that it was particularly pleasing for prolific striker Sears to get the call, having been given his first international taste in a friendly against Belarus back in September only to then be frustrated by injury.

Sears played 27 minutes in that match after coming off the bench, and looked set to continue with England because of a fine scoring run with West Ham United. However, a broken foot set him back and he has not figured again until this latest call-up. It is richly deserved, with the striker having scored five goals in four games since the turn of the year. "I am delighted for Freddie," Carr added. "He got called up before and got injured so it is nice for him to be involved." Stanislas is also looking for his second taste of England duty, having been called for the friendly away to Germany last November - the U19s last outing. The attacking midfielder was also forced into a spell on the sidelines over the turn of the year, recovering from a bruised foot to return last week and then get another run-out against Arsenal on Saturday. That Germany game also featured Tomkins, who was once more with the first team up at Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon.

Another youngster who will be involved in international action this week is fast emerging Welsh midfielder Jack Collison. The 19-year-old reserve-team captain is in Malta for a Tuesday lunchtime fixture which could see Wales take first place in qualifying group 10. After collecting nine points from their first four fixtures, the principality are two points behind Romania and France but have one and two games in hand on the leaders respectively. For Collison, it is also a high-profile chance to show off his talents, having made a significant impact on his U21 debut last November, scoring a stunning solo goal to round out a 4-0 home victory for Wales against Bosnia-Herzegovina. He followed that up three days later with a fine display against a strong visiting France team, as Wales won 4-2.

"Obviously at international level you are playing against top-class players and that can only help me raise my own game," the midfielder said. "Last time I got called up, we got two positive results and, if we win, we can go top of the group, which is a great position to be in for the last couple of games. It would be great to qualify for the finals. Also, I'm not playing that regularly at the moment, so these matches will come in handy for me. We don't have many reserves games and, while I am in and around the squad, I don't feature every week so the international break will be good for me to get these games under my belt."

Collison made his senior debut for West Ham United as a substitute against Arsenal on New Year's Day and was yet again with the first team for Saturday's fixture at Wigan Athletic. "This season has been very good for me so far. At the start, I got to travel away with the first team, then I made my international debut and then my debut for West Ham against Arsenal. I just have to carry on working hard and keep pushing on, to cement a place at West Ham and in the Welsh squad. Making it to the senior teams on both accounts is the aim. With Wales, I scored last time around and it would be nice to get on the score-sheet again and hopefully make another good impression."

No comments:


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari