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Trott and team-mates warned to sharpen up

Tough start to season: West Ham Under-23 goalkeeper Nathan Trott

Nathan Trott and West Ham United Under-23 have endured a rocky start to the new season in Premier League 2.

The youngsters, who finished fifth in the 12-team first division last season, have dropped to ninth after successive defeats in which nine goals have been shipped by a creaky defence.

West Ham lost 3-2 to champions Arsenal on Friday at the London Stadium, the club’s Premier League ground, prompting Academy coach Liam Manning to issue a broadside that the hopefuls are playing for their careers.

“I think the mentality of our team, we need to work on it,” Manning told West Ham’s official website. “We keep coming in at half-time and then sorting it out. Managers won’t pick you if you have to do that, and we have to address that this week.

“We need to load up that in their heads: when they start a game, it’s a career they’re playing for, not just a game in the Premier League. They have to get their heads around that.”

Manning singled out midfielder Nathan Holland as the best player on the pitch, but Trott could not have been too far behind in the pecking order after an inspiring performance that should have done much to lift his confidence in the wake of a 6-4 defeat by rampant Manchester City on August 19.

Trott saved well at his near post to deny Eddie Nketiah in the early stages. And, although, he might have done better in allowing a looping, long-range header by Julio Pleguezuelo from a corner to dip into his far post, the 20-year-old Bermudian excelled in the latter stages when West Ham were chasing the game.

Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal built a 3-1 lead before Reece Oxford gave the home side hope with half an hour remaining.

Two stellar saves low down to his right were the pick of Trott’s efforts in keeping the deficit to one, while at the other end an electric sequence in which a shot was cleared off the line and a drive came back off the bar meant that the points would be going north in this London derby.

Trott’s improved performance was much needed after what went on five days earlier at the Chigwell Construction Stadium in Dagenham, where he could be said to be at fault for at least two of the six goals that City scored for a second game in succession.

West Ham were already three down by the time they had defender Tunji Akinola sent off for a second bookable offence in the 37th minute, and could be commended for ensuring the final scoreline looked competitive.

City, who beat Arsenal by the odd goal in 11 in their season-opener, are the early pacesetters in the division, with seven points from three matches after a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool on Friday.

Trott and West Ham began the season on August 13 with a 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. They are next in action on Sunday, away to Liverpool.