Freddie still hopes for a breakthrough

IT IS 14 months since Freddie Sears became an instant Hammers hero by scoring the winning goal on his debut against Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS. Since then the Romford youngster, who isn t even 20 until November, has played another 2

IT IS 14 months since Freddie Sears became an instant Hammers hero by scoring the winning goal on his debut against Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS.

Since then the Romford youngster, who isn't even 20 until November, has played another 28 games for the club he has supported since his childhood, without managing to add to that first goal tally.

Mind you, statistics can be slightly deceptive. Of that 28 games, Sears has started just eight of them, and, like he did on Saturday against Liverpool, has to find his shooting boots and the pace of the game, in the short time he is afforded off the bench.

"It is obviously frustrating to be on the bench, but it is nice to come on and get a run-out," said the 19-year-old. "I'd like to be playing week in week out, like I did last year for the reserves, but you've just got to keep going and wait for your chance."

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That has been the big problem for Sears this season, when the limited chances have come along to start a match, he has not been at his best.

The youngster has started this campaign against Macclesfield and Watford in the Carling Cup, as well as Middlesbrough away and Everton, Portsmouth and West Brom at Upton Park in the Premier League, but in those games, the Hammers only managed to beat Macclesfield - and that after extra time!

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So does Sears feel under pressure because of the glorious start he made to his West Ham career?

"Not really pressure," explained Sears. "Obviously there are big expectations on the younger players that are coming through the Academy at West Ham.

"But I feel the fans, knowing you're a homegrown player, give you more time to let you show what you can do."

He's absolutely right. If a David Di Michele or a Diego Tristan had gone through a run like that - which they have to some extent - then the wrath of the fans would really be upon them.

But despite his setbacks, Sears remains a confident player, and is still demanding the ball whenever he takes to the field.

He remains hopeful of forcing his way into the starting line-up on a more regular basis.

"I think I can," he insisted. "I'm getting older now and have more experience. I've played more games and the experience has come, so hopefully I can go and get some games under my belt."

What you have to remember is that Sears is still a comparative novice in the Premier League, though he does believe that he is learning a lot from the more experienced strikers at the club.

"Working with them every day in training makes you better and you learn so much from them," he insisted. "Diego's been playing for so long, Cole's been on fire this season and David does things in training that are unbelievable.

"It's great to see them and play with them."

In reality, with Cole, Dean Ashton, Tristan and Di Michele all ahead of him in the pecking order, as well as the prospect of some fresh striking talent arriving at Upton Park during the summer, Sears' chances may be limited even more next season.

So how does the possibility of a loan move suit the England under-19 international?

"It definitely is something to look at," he said. "It interested me earlier this season, but the gaffer didn't let me go because we haven't got many players.

"There's not really much you can do, but it would be nice to go out and play a few games and score a few goals, but all I can do is keep working hard in training."

Sears certainly has the right attitude, but a loan move at the beginning of next season must surely be the way forward. It worked for Mark Noble and James Tomkins, perhaps it will be the making of this promising Romford boy.

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