October 23 2014 Latest news:
Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
The Hammers young stars impressed against Sampdoria, but will we see them in the Premier League?
The last regular player to come through the ranks of the West Ham academy team is defender James Tomkins, but there were a few making their own claims for consideration on Saturday when the Hammers twice came from behind to beat Sampdoria 3-2 at Upton Park to lift the Marathonbet Cup.
In the last minute, striker Elliot Lee got into the box on the right and then looked up before picking out Academy team-mate Reece Burke who calmly stroked it home.
Earlier, Dan Potts, a 33rd-minute substitute for the injured Aaron Cresswell, rampaged into the box only to be brought down for a penalty which was, as ever, calmly converted by Mark Noble.
As well as Lee (19), Burke (17) and Potts (20), there are plenty of other youngsters battling to get themselves in the first-team squad.
Matthias Fanimo (20), Luke Chambers (19), Blair Turgott (20) and Sebastian Lletget (21) have all come through the Academy. You can add to that the young players the club have signed like Paul McCallum (21), Danny Whitehead (20) and Janaai Gordon (18).
Some may say that the humiliating 5-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last season proved that the kids are not good enough, well maybe not when they were all thrown in at the deep end, away from home. That was not really a fair test.
The youngsters need to be integrated slowly, as Chambers was successfully last season in the Capital One Cup, not all thrown in at once. They need to be given loan chances as McCallum, Lee and Potts have been, before being moved into the West Ham first-team picture.
It did Tomkins and Noble the world of good earlier in their careers. But they were given a proper chance when they returned to Upton Park and the question remains, will the current crop of youngsters.
Potts certainly enjoyed his time on the Upton Park turf on Saturday.
“It’s the only home game we’ve got in pre-season and I started on the bench, but I got my chance and I really enjoyed it,” said Potts, who played the last 15 minutes of the first half as a wing back, before reverting to left back for the second half.
“I was on and then Elliot Lee and Reece Burke came on late and did not do themselves any harm by combining for the winner, so it was good for the Academy.”
Saturday’s late, late win was the first and last victory of pre-season. The Italians grabbed an early lead, before Potts won the penalty which Noble converted to level things right on half time.
And then after the break, Sampdoria restored their lead only for a flurry of late substitutions to cause them to lose their way a little and Mo Diame scored a fine solo goal before Lee and Burke combined for the winner.
“There have been little things about us having a winless pre-season up until now and things like that, but pre-season isn’t really about results,” said Potts.
“It’s more about getting the fitness work in. We all love to win though and it was good to come off on the winning team.”
So what chance of Potts finally making a place in the first team a regular thing?
“It’s coming up to three years now since my debut,” he said. “I’m lucky to have got a few sniffs in the first team in this pre-season and hopefully I’ve done myself no harm. Now pre-season is over and I want to push on even further.
“The Premier League is where I want to play and leading up to Tottenham on Saturday, hopefully I can be in and around it.”
The same words could have come out of the mouths of Lee, Chambers, Burke, Fanimo and even new signing Diego Poyet, who is still only 19.
Whether manager Sam Allardyce gives them those chances, remains to be seen.