Academy boss Terry Westley was delighted to see one of his own become the first Hammer to score a London Stadium hat-trick and told Toni Martinez: “You won’t take that ball off him!”
The young Spaniard sent a timely message to Slaven Bilic that he’s ready to step up to the first team and an obvious bench opportunity will come against Spurs in the EFL Cup.
Westley said: “He’s the first West Ham player to score a hat-trick at London Stadium and you won’t take that ball off him! He’s dangerous and effective at this level. There aren’t many who are scoring the volume of goals he is.”
The Academy chief also had Declan Rice back as his skipper as the Hammers Under 23s beat Man United 4-2 coming from behind twice with Jack Powell snatching the fourth.
He said: “The win is important, and it could have been wider. It was a great day for us. You play here [London Stadium] three times, so to play here against Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs, and with a great youth tradition, and win emphatically, is great.
“We have a good group, like we’ve always said. It may have taken three years to collectively and culturally get what we want, but it the team performs collectively, you have a better chance individually to stand out.
“The team comes first and I have to congratulate the three senior ones, although they’re all young. Edi [Fernandes], Sam Byram and Declan [Rice] came into the team and really stamped some authority on the match, showed some class and played properly.
“It was great to have Dec back, but we don’t want him back too long! You want him to progress, you want him to play first team football.
“You want him, when you come back down, to be the outstanding player. He’ll be disappointed for the first goal. But put that to one side, his overall performance, you’d pay money to come and see him play.
“Holland can go past anybody, and I’ve not seen a better player with the ball who is quick for a very long time. He has to get better with movement and out of possession but he’s a huge threat.
“We thought with Byram, [Josh] Pask, Rice and [Vashon] Neufville, that we had a solid back four and with Nathan in goal, probably our strongest this season, and with Edi, Kemp, Nathan and Toni we were dangerous going forward.
“I also though Conor [Coventry] and Powelly controlled the game – they stopped and thought and were more effective.”
The U23s are next in action in a week’s time, when they travel west to take on Chelsea in Division 1. Westley is hoping one or two things can be ironed out before the clash, but is confident his side can pick up where they left off.
“We’ve now set the standard, it’s a great result, and we’ll rest tomorrow before going to look forward to playing Chelsea next weekend.”