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Nathaniel John, West Ham Correspondent
Friday, July 20, 2012
Hammers youngster Rob Hall is having an eventful summer
West Ham youngster Rob Hall has had a very busy couple of weeks recently, including representing England at the European under-19 Championships.
The 18-year-old flew out to Estonia to play for his country, with Noel Blake’s side reaching the semi-finals of the competition, before suffering an extra-time defeat at the hands of Greece.
Despite all the travelling and arriving back on English shores late on Friday, Hall was named in the starting line-up for the Hammers’ 3-0 victory at Southend United on Saturday, and was delighted to get back into the swing of things in claret and blue.
“I got back on Friday about six in the evening after travelling all day,” he said.
“But it wasn’t too bad, I managed to get some rest on the way and I did feel nice and fresh.
“It was a long time away from home, but I learned a lot out there, a lot of good experiences, some bad of course, going out in the semis, but it was a very worthwhile trip.
“A lot of the lads weren’t fit when we went there, so we dug in while we were there and kept together.”
However, despite the disappointment of missing a penalty in the semi-final defeat against Greece and England’s subsequent exit, Hall admits he did learn a lot from his Estonia experience.
“Yeah I learned a lot out there, definitely,” he said. “You see different coaches and you learn to live in certain ways.
“There was a lot of down time out there when you have a lot of hours to yourselves, whether on your own or with your room-mate, so you are learning a lot of things.
“I have done it before, but I think on this trip I learned a lot more.”
Hall returned to England expecting to play some part against the Shrimpers on Saturday and was shocked to find out he was in the starting line-up.
“I wasn’t expecting to start, to be honest,” he said. “I came in and heard I was only playing 30 minutes, but I thought it would be at the other end, but I came into the changing room and saw my name on the starting list so I went out there and tried to do what I do best.”
At a rain-soaked Roots Hall with plenty of standing water and numerous puddles holding the ball up, West Ham cruised to victory, courtesy of goals from Nicky Maynard, Jordan Spence and Sam Baldock, the former MK Dons man’s third pre-season goal in as many games.
And having travelled back from the warmer climes of an Estonian summer, Hall admits it was a culture shock, but it felt good to be back on English soil.
“It was a lot different to Estonia,” he said. “It was hot out there and dry, so coming back home to England and playing on a greasy pitch with a couple of puddles was different, but that is football, you have to put up with these things and it was great in the end.”
Hall spent the majority of last season on loan at different clubs throughout the Football League, including two spells at Oxford United, and some time at MK Dons.
However, having briefly tasted first-team football for the Hammers in the Championship, the teenager aims to remain in Sam Allardyce’s plans in the Premier League, but admits it will be a tough task.
“I think my aim is to just carry on and push on and stay in and around the first team a bit more, and just try to grab opportunities and take them as much as I can,” he said.
“The lads are great players, Premier League players now and they have been for many years.
“I am just trying to learn a lot from them to help me on the way, so hopefully I can stay in and around it.
“It would be a dream come true to play in the Premier League.
“Hopefully it will come true, but if it doesn’t, I’ve just got to keep going, keep pushing on and hopefully one day it will come.”