Following our record breaking group stage achievement in Europe this week, I catch up with ExWHUEmployee to discuss the goings on at the club.

Ex many of us are hoping to see our record signing Lucas Paqueta return, can you provide an update?

Yes he is available for todays game against Palace and unless something has changed last minute he is in the match day squad for today which is a massive boost.

Fantastic news! What does this mean for our midfield of Paqueta starts, as many are calling for a Downes / Rice partnership behind the Brazilian?

The fans do want to see that three and this would be my preferred choice too at the moment.

Soucek however is the managers preferred and trusted choice and I think this will remain the case until the World Cup break.

Ex we are expecting a big appointment to be made with a new Academy manager set to replace the departing Ricky Martin. Can you provide an update on the recruitment process? 

There are many stand out candidates for me. I would like the person to be a West Ham man. I believe it’s very important at that age, where money and decisions can be made with self interest rather than the clubs.

Therefore it is important to have a West Ham man in post, someone who loves the club and will do what is right for the club. His dad is a club legend and oldest living former hammer and he is an ex player and fan and that man is Kenny Brown. Not only does he have the West Ham affiliation but he is very well qualified in terms of experience and qualifications for the position.

The club thought are set to conclude the appointment and officially announce it this week, with Mark Noble playing a key role in the whole recruitment process.

This week we saw our Academy players shine in Europe. What are your thoughts on that night in Romania?

It was amazing to see. I am so proud of the club in moments like this and it makes us special. We are known as the academy so what better way to emphasise this than playing so many and they all doing so well.

If you include the fact Rice, Johnson and Coventry are also academy players there are so many that have made a positive impact on our season. Credit must be shown to Dave Hunt (the former head of recruitment for bringing most of them in) and all the academy coaches that have helped their development.

The likes of Steve Potts, Kevin Keen and Mark Philips are often acknowledged by the players in interviews and you cannot underestimate their roles. It also important to acknowledge the families in this path. They have to dedicate so much time on travel and commitment to their child’s development and providing that mental support too, so the feeling of pride when their child makes it must be so immense.

We are now just over a week before the World Cup break. Are the club planning on any matches during this period? 

Yes, this is something that we have discussed on the podcast a number of times now. We have already booked in a testimonial away at Cambridge United. There should be others to come.

There was even talk that a Betway trophy style event will be arranged as there wasn’t one in the summer. Again, I’ll try and get some updates on this.