Paul Merson has claimed that West Ham youngster Jeremy Ngakia should keep his spot in the side at the weekend for a huge fixture against Southampton.
The Hammers host Southampton on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League and it’s vital they pick up three points to boost their survival bid.
David Moyes’ side sit 18th in the table as it stands occupying a relegation spot, but know that avoiding defeat at the weekend will see them climb above Aston Villa as they have the Carabao Cup final with Manchester City on Sunday.
Pundit Merson has insisted that teenager Ngakia should be in the starting XI against Southampton, as well as urging the home support to really get behind the team.
The 19-year-old right-back started in the 3-2 league defat away to Liverpool in the last game and it will be intriguing to see if he keeps his spot agains Southampton, or if Moyes goes with the experience of Pablo Zabaleta.
His only two senior appearances in his career have come during this season’s league matches against Liverpool, but he’s not looked out place against the table toppers and appears to have massive potential.
“West Ham fans need to get behind their team big time this weekend. The London Stadium needs to be rocking when they play Southampton because that is a cup final for them,” Merson wrote in the Daily Star.
“Don’t turn on them if you’re not winning the game after 20 minutes. Treat it as if you’re playing Tottenham and back them for 90 minutes.
“I would play the young lad Jeremy Ngakia though. If he can do it at Liverpool against three of the best in the business he can do it against Saints.”
It must be put into context that Ngakia has only made two senior appearances in his brief career so far and his introduction to the first-team has only started in 2020.
But he’s shown superb character with his individual displays in starts against Liverpool and wasn’t overawed by facing Sadio Mane.
West Ham’s fixture against Southampton is going to bring a different kind of pressure, as it’s one the supporters feel they need to win and it may be a tense atmosphere at the London Stadium.
But Ngakia genuinely may be a better option with his pace and energy at full-back over Zabaleta.