West Ham prospect Conor Coventry took time out from settling into life in Lincoln this week to chat to me about the difference between Under 23 football and senior action.
As part of doing my programme piece, I got ten minutes with Conor on the phone during which we spoke about his West Ham upbringing, why the Hammers are a special club that produces a certain type of player, and how he felt making his debut for us against Shrewsbury, as well as for West Ham against Macclesfield.
The 19-year-old is highly rated at the London Stadium and recently signed a new deal with them despite interest from Celtic. That comes on the back of an impressive run for their Under 23 side in which he has been captain as they’ve made an unbeaten start to the Premier League 2 season.
Despite that success, Conor felt the time was right to make a move into senior football.
“Under 23 football has its benefits but I’ve played in that for a while now,” said the engaging youngster.
“I just wanted to get a different stimulus, to play in a senior league against different opposition, I guess. I felt it time was right to do it and Lincoln, as a club, was the right place to come and do that.”
There are plenty of obvious difference between the two levels, Conor managed to pinpoint two key differences which he feels will help improve his game.
“There are so many differences. One of the differences here is that the games matter. If you play well and lose for the 23’s sometimes you think ‘don’t worry, we’ve played well’. At this level, you’re expected to win, the fans are pushing you to win and it matters.
“On the pitch, the pace of senior football is really different. For the 23’s the games can be technical and tactical, but there might be times when you can move the ball a bit slower and maybe rest, but in League One there’s no respite at all; you have to be on it for the entire game.”
Conor is expected to play a key part in our push for a comfortable midtable position this season, but that’s if he manages to get a decent night’s sleep. During our conversation, he was in the process of setting up his own flat in the city but was awaiting a key piece of furniture being delivered.
“I was sharing with a couple of other lads, but I’ve got the keys to my own place yesterday. I’m here now, waiting for them to deliver the bed!”
As long as he’s not caught napping against Ipswich tomorrow, we’ll be alright.
Read more of Conor’s interview in Tuesday’s programme when he talks West Ham, Ireland, FIFA and his role models from the academy.