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Match Preview: Everton U21 vs West Ham United U21

As part of a what will hopefully be a new series on RBM focusing on Everton's youth, Tom Woods looks ahead to Everton U21s' upcoming game against West Ham....

Paul Thomas/Getty Images

David Unsworth’s Everton under-21s will be looking to bounce back from their most recent defeat when they take on West Ham United’s U21 team at the Merseyrail Community Stadium in Southport on Thursday evening.

The Blues were away to Leicester City on Monday and lost 1-0 thanks to a late Chris Wood goal for the hosts.

Thursday’s clash against The Hammers will be Everton’s second game in just four days, even though Monday night’s visit to Belvoir Drive was the team’s first since the beginning of December.

It also sparks a run of three consecutive home games for The Toffees, as they welcome Fulham and Southampton to Southport in the coming weeks.

West Ham’s development squad come into the game off the back of a 3-1 home defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on Friday evening, and they themselves will also be looking to get back on track with a win.

United boss Nick Maycock will also have midfielder Ravel Morrison to call upon, who scored the team’s only goal against Spurs.

Everton lie mid-table in sixth place, but are just six points off the top spot with two games in hand. While West Ham United – who have played two more games than the young Blues – sit bottom of the Barclays U21 Premier League, though an away victory could see them rise as high as eighth.

Matthew Kennedy is in starting contention after returning from a six-month loan spell with Alan Stubbs’ Hibernian, having impressed in his substitute appearance against Leicester in which he was denied a goal by the woodwork.

Both team’s senior sides have also met twice in the past fortnight, with Romelu Lukaku’s injury time goal at Goodison Park in the initial tie of their third round FA Cup encounter forced a replay.

The Londoners were able to come from behind in extra time on Tuesday through Carlton Cole, before winning the game 9-8 on penalties.

The under-21s kick off at 19:00pm at Southport FC’s Merseyrail Community Stadium, and a full match report will follow the final whistle on Royal Blue Mersey.