BRAINTREE Town boss Glen Driver says his players must cherish the ball when they host the up-and-coming stars of Premier League giants West Han United at Cressing Road on Friday night.

The Hammers will be sending a strong under-23s line-up to face Driver's team for their latest pre-season action on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm) and as well as Iron fans having a chance to see their own team's development, they will be able to view the London club's next generation of rising stars.

Braintree come into the pre-season fixture on the back of a 3-0 win at Newmarket Town last weekend and a 2-2 draw with Coggeshall Town in midweek as Driver's life as Iron manager got off to an unbeaten start.

He is encouraging his players to be brave on the ball and to build attacks from deep positions and will want to see more of that when the Hammers visit.

However, he knows his side have a way to go before they are the finished article and wants to see improvements in their play - particularly in how they pass and keep hold of the ball - when they face West Ham from how they did at times against Coggeshall.

He said: “We can certainly showcase ourselves against West Ham.

“Against Coggeshall, we were 2-0 down and did not move away from our philosophy at all.

“We still played out from the back, we stuck it in midfield, we went back to the keeper, we got the ball out to the full-back and got it into the final third where Tom Richardson, Femi Akinwande and Rob Harvey could come alive for us.

“We will play the same way again on Friday.

“We will get it to feet and we’ll get at West Ham, but we have to make sure we retain the ball better, otherwise it’s going to be a very long night for us.

“We have to move the ball better than we did against Coggeshall because West Ham will keep it much better than what we did and what Coggeshall did on Tuesday.

“They will work us hard.

“I’m not going to be too hard on our boys after Tuesday, but we do have to be better on the ball.

“What was encouraging for me was that they were disappointed after that game against Coggeshall.

“They knew they hadn’t been good on the ball and that’s the pleasing thing - there were lots of long faces leaving the changing room because they knew they could have been better on the ball.

“That’s a positive for me.

“If people were going around pointing fingers and saying ‘that’s his fault and that’s his fault’ then that’s wrong, but they all took responsibility for themselves.

“We will keep encouraging them to pass it and against West Ham on Friday night, hopefully we will pass it a lot better and give a better account of ourselves."

Braintree are hoping that plenty of Essex-based West Ham fans will be enticed to see their team's up and coming talent and Driver hopes that Iron supporters will also get themselves to Cressing Road to add their backing to his players as they continue to develop.

“I thought our fans were brilliant on Tuesday," he added.

“There were a few ‘ooh’s and ‘aahs’ at times when things may not have gone quite right, but they were brilliant and I had lots of people coming up to me and saying well done.

“We will get better for these games and I hope people stick with us because of the way we’re trying to play.

“I hope the supporters like what they have seen so far and hopefully they’ll come in for the West Ham game.

“However, we know we have to be better to have better gates.

“It was proved to me (when I was manager) at Leiston that if you are doing well and playing attractive football then the fans will come and watch you.

“We have to be better than what we were against Coggeshall, but I’m not being too harsh as it’s only two games in."