Rovers U23s will look to get back to winning ways this afternoon as they host West Ham United U23s at the Leyland County Ground.
Billy Barr’s side fell to only their third defeat of the Premier League 2 season last time out, losing 6-4 away to Manchester United, with their other two defeats coming at home.
They face a West Ham side who sit bottom of the PL2, heading into this match on the back of a 6-1 away defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Former Leicester City Head of Player Development Dmitri Halajko took over West Ham U23s in July 2019, leading them to promotion from Division Two in his first season after the season was cancelled following the pandemic.
The young Hammers have struggled to adjust to life in the top tier, with just two wins and two draws to their name this season – although one of them draws came in the reverse fixture.
West Ham have been without their top scorer Oladapo Afolayan in recent weeks after he made a loan switch to Bolton Wanderers, whilst Danish defender Frederik Alves will be absent following his dismissal in the aforementioned Brighton defeat.
Joe Rankin-Costello could feature after three months on the sidelines, with Tony Mowbray telling the Lancashire Telegraph that “he probably needs an Under-23s game at some stage after his long-term injury.”
Antonis Stergiakis and Stefan Mols could feature after missing the last couple of fixtures – the latter waiting for his first appearance since returning from his loan at CF Intercity.
We could see a number of the U18s involved, with Harrison Wood, Charlie Weston and Alex Baker all involved in the United defeat.
As always, predicting an XI is hard, but with the limited information available on the U23s, it is a task that is even tougher.
Predicted XI: Stergiakis, Pike, Annesley, Barnes, Rankin-Costello, Mols, Nolan, Harlock, Burns, Brennan, Gilsenan
It realistically should be a comfortable afternoon for Billy Barr’s side against a West Ham side who have scored just seven times on the road and have just one point from seven away fixtures.
Prediction: Rovers U23s 4-1 West Ham U23s
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