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Three West Ham youngsters ready to make the step up next season

The Hammers have a number of young stars ready to make the jump to the first team.

Ruari Macneil

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Photo: Getty Images

West Ham fans will have gone into the current season with a lot of hope after making some useful looking signings in the 2017 summer transfer window.

The additions of Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta saw some big names added to the squad, and there was even discussion of a possible top-four challenge.

Unfortunately for Hammers fans, the season has not gone quite as planned, as poor form saw manager Slaven Bilic replaced fairly early on by ex-Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes.

Moyes did a decent job to steady the ship initially. However, the club is by no means free of turmoil, despite currently sitting 14th and looking likely to avoid the drop.

Next season, some big personnel changes will definitely need to be made if the club are to kick on and enjoy a decent season of football that lasts the length from August to May.

With a number of promising youngster coming through the ranks, we have selected three individuals who will be looking to impact the first in the season ahead.

Josh Cullen

Josh Cullen spent the first half of the current season on loan at Bolton Wanderers, picking up some valuable first team experience in the Championship, making 12 appearances.

January saw the young Irishman move back to his parent club, and the midfielder has made a number of further appearances for the Hammers.

At 22, Cullen is reaching a critical age in terms of the make of break period at his current club.

Having drawn attention to himself from the West Ham coaching staff, the youngster will probably have the chance to kick on after the summer with further first team chances in East London.

With the midfield having been a real problem for Moyes since arriving at the club, the Scot may well be looking to use Cullen in a role of increased importance.

Having come through the ranks at the club, Cullen could be the perfect partner for Mark Noble in midfield, learning day to day how to conduct himself as an exemplary professional, standing him in the best stead for the rest of his career.

Reece Oxford

West Ham fans will have been dying to see more of Reece Oxford since the teenager made his debut for the club back in 2015.

The imposing central defender/midfielder is extremely versatile and has been playing in Germany for Borussia Monchengladbach on loan this term.

Oxford has made 17 appearances for the Hammers to date. However, is yet to enjoy a proper run in the team to allow to gather momentum and play himself into form.

At 19, he is still a very young prospect, but is definitely reaching the age where regular first team football is crucial.

The youngster may have only played a handful of times for the German outfit this season, but will have picked up some valuable experience playing in a different European environment, helping him to mature as a defensive player.

West Ham will no doubt be making some big changes to both their midfield and central defensive areas this summer, and Oxford should definitely be benefiting from this.

Domingos Quina

Portuguese starlet Domingos Quina is perhaps still slightly immature to be touted as a first team star next season.

However, having played for the club six times already, aged only 18, the youngster is clearly a highly rated talent in East London.

Quina joined the Hammers academy from Chelsea in 2016, going on to make his debut during the 2016/2017 season.

This term, the 18-year-old has gone on to feature a further four times, once in the FA cup and three times in the League Cup, whilst continuing to make an impact on the international stage with Portugal under-19s.

With Manuel Lanzini to learn from, Quina is definitely in a strong position with West Ham, and will simply be hoping for more of the same in the coming seasons.

Perhaps unlikely to become a regular starter just yet, the youngster definitely presents an exciting prospect off the bench for next season.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

West Ham United

Three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s West Ham press conference

The Hammers are looking for a result after defeat last weekend.

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Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of his first West Ham home match this weekend, with the Hammers welcoming Bournemouth to the London Stadium.

The east London side were dismantled by Liverpool on the opening weekend, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool that left the heavy-spenders rooted to the bottom of the Premier League at the very, very early stage of the campaign.

Improvements are needed for the hosting of Bournemouth, who beat Cardiff City last weekend, and we have identified three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference.

Injury update

West Ham need all the good news they can get their hands on after last week’s mauling at the hands of Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini has provided that. While his comments are as you expect, naming the three long-term absentees, it’s what he doesn’t say that is interesting.

Fans will notice that Aaron Cresswell is not mentioned, suggesting that the experienced full-back will be available for selection after not being risked for the defeat to Liverpool due to fitness concerns – and he could therefore come into the side to replace Arthur Masuaku.

“We have no new injury news. The same three players – Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini are still out, but all the others are OK.”

Howe praise

Eddie Howe became the darling of English football after he led Bournemouth to the Premier League and kept the Cherries in the top-flight. While that love affair may have come to a close, with the club crashing back down to earth, he still earns plenty of praise.

Pellegrini has spoken highly of his competitor ahead of the hosting of Bournemouth and he may need to be careful, as Howe is the sort of manager West Ham should probably look towards if things do not work out well under the Chilean boss.

“Eddie Howe has done very well. He’s a very good manager and keeping them in the Premier League in that first season was a very good job. They have been there a number of years now and he’s doing very well.”

Fan patience

Asking fans to be patient is usually the kiss of depth and Manuel Pellegrini avoided using those specific words during his pre-match press conference. However, he did make it clear that it will take time for the dust to settle after a frantic summer window.

Fans will want a positive result at the London Stadium this weekend but the Hammers enter the match with a newly assembled squad still learning the ropes, many of whom are in the Premier League for the first time, while the majority of Bournemouth’s squad is well accustomed to the rigours of English football – many of whom have been with the club for a while.

“I hope our fans can understand that this is our first game at home but we are continuing to work with the squad. I don’t think we will have any problem with the fans.”

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West Ham round-up: Carroll update, Silva shines & Spurs stadium share

A selection of news and gossip from West Ham.

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Photo: Getty Images

Christmas Carroll

In an update that cues the most obvious pun in the history of football, Claret & Hugh state that forgotten striker Andy Carroll is expected to return to first-team action before the festive season – ahead of defender Winston Reid.

Carroll’s latest injury setback may have seen him tumble down the pecking order at the club as Manuel Pellegrini moved to sign Felipe Anderson and Lucas Perez in the transfer window, both of whom could play centrally as an alternative to Javier Hernandez.

It is positive for the Hammers though, as Carroll returning before January means there is a chance he could be offloaded in the mid-season window.

Spurs at the London Stadium

In what could be the most least popular pieces of news to ever break in east London, WestHamFans.org understand that Tottenham Hotspur have requested to play their clash against Manchester City on 28th October at West Ham‘s stadium.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Lilywhites’ planned move to a new stadium has proven to be a shambles, with delays meaning that Spurs will have to remain at Wembley for longer than initially planned – with home clashes against Liverpool and Cardiff City being moved to the home of English football, as well as the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.

Given all the technicalities in West Ham’s agreement with the stadium, they do not actually own the ground and it is not their decision on what happens with Spurs. However, they would at least have to give their consent.

Silva lining

With all the summer deals that went on concerning West Ham, one that slipped under the radar for many was the capture of 21-year-old Portuguese striker Xande Silva – who has proven to be an instant hit in east London.

Making his debut for the U23 side this week, Silva netted a six-minute hat-trick to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Tottenham and helped his side secure a 3-1 win. That has naturally led to plenty of praise for the young forward, including from academy chief Terry Westley.

“He is a very powerful striker and he will be given the season to settle in  – it’s down to him what sort of impact he can make at the higher level but he has made a seriously good start. Fair to say we really like the look of him!”

– Westley praised Silva in comments made to Claret & Hugh.

Eyes on Azah

The transfer window may be closed but that does not mean West Ham’s activity in the market is over, as the Hammers are named as one of many sides interested in the services of Irish youngster Elvis Azah by The Daily Mail.

Azah caught the eye after spending pre-season with Cardiff City, scoring in a U18 match against West Ham, and is also being chased by Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool after earning Irish citizenship – enabling him to move to England.

Born in Ghana, the 17-year-old winger is capable of playing on either flank or in a more advanced central role.

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Pellegrini would be making a mistake dropping Rice for Sanchez

The youngster should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

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West Ham‘s spell under Manuel Pellegrini did not get off to the best of starts on Sunday and Declan Rice could suffer as a result.

The Hammers were torn apart by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a 4-0 defeat, with Pellegrini’s squad full of new recruits struggling to hit their top gear at Anfield.

The Chilean boss spent heavily in the summer to rejuvenate his squad at the London Stadium and further changes to his side are expected ahead of this weekend’s hosting of Bournemouth, as he seeks to secure a first win with the club.

(Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images)

However, it is concerning that reports from Claret & Hugh suggest that Pellegrini is mulling over dropping Declan Rice for Carlos Sanchez, who was signed from Fiorentina last week for a fee of £4m – a decision that could have lasting consequences that the club will be desperate to avoid.

19-year-old Rice was one of few shining lights for the Hammers in last season’s disappointing campaign, earning 26 Premier League appearances in his breakthrough year and showing signs that he could become a long-term asset for the club.

Now capped at senior level for the Republic of Ireland, Rice will be looking for continued first-team opportunities to help him cement his spot in Martin O’Niell’s side for the long-term and being dropped for a new recruit could be damaging.

“It’s a new manager coming in and I think everyone has got a fresh start under him. I can’t wait to show him what I’m about and what I can do. I played 32 or 33 times last year and I want to carry on this year. I want to keep playing games and keep improving and learning.”

– Rice made his plans for the season clear in July.

Rice has already seen competition for a spot in the heart of the defence increase significantly following the signings of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop but his versatility proved to be decisive last weekend, as he started the game at Anfield.

Visibly furious to be subbed off at half-time, West Ham need to be very careful with the situation as they have been unable to agree on a new long-term deal with Rice despite negotiations taking place throughout the summer.

With his current deal expiring next summer, Rice could continue to snub new offers if he does not continue to earn first-team opportunities and it would see the young defender become the latest in a long line of Hammers starlets to seek a move elsewhere.

Pellegrini’s side were already forced to offload Domingos Quina to Premier League rivals Watford last week after the Portuguese ace entered the final year of his deal, and Reece Oxford is widely linked with a move abroad after impressing on loan with Borussia Monchengladbach last season.

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