Young at heart of West Ham future
INJURIES forced West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola to raid his cache of youngsters for Monday night s game against West Brom, but it is fair to say that none of them let him down, writes DAVE EVANS. Perhaps the only disappointment was that of 19-year-old Germa
INJURIES forced West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola to raid his cache of youngsters for Monday night's game against West Brom, but it is fair to say that none of them let him down, writes DAVE EVANS.
Perhaps the only disappointment was that of 19-year-old German winger Savio, but then only because so much is expected of him.
The youngster made his first start in claret and blue, but found the going tough, while three other 19-year-olds were also called on to show what they can do.
James Tomkins is not 20 until next week, but he showed an increasing maturity with a man of the match performance at the heart of a defence, stripped of the services of England international Matty Upson after just half an hour of Monday's clash against the bottom team.
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Another 19-year-old in Junior Stanislas came on to make his debut on the left wing, while striker Freddie Sears was given another opportunity to find the form that earned him a debut goal against Blackburn Rovers last season.
Sears, another 19-year-old, found life tough against the big, powerful West Brom defenders, but he is determined he is going to make a success of his career at Upton Park.
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"Obviously it's difficult because you're playing with different people every game," explained Romford-boy Sears.
"One day you're with 'Coley' the next day you're with David Di Michele, but working with both of them is good.
"You need to get match fitness going and once you get that sharpness, you're kind of there."
That has been a problem for the teenager as he has been in and out of the team all season, including a spell where he didn't even get on the bench.
However, the confident youngster seems to have taken it all in his stride and he has also received some positive feedback from the manager.
"It has been a bit frustrating sitting around waiting for a chance, so it is nice to get out there, to get on the pitch," he said.
"The boss has just said to keep doing what I'm doing and my chance will come, and he said when it does come, he knows I will be ready to take it."
Carlton Cole's absence has given him that opportunity and he knows how important it is to make the most of it.
"It's definitely a massive chance for me. With Carlton out I've just got to go in and do my best and hopefully get the results for the team and do well for myself."
That plan didn't go too smoothly on Monday for Sears and the youngster felt that the break since the last game did not help their cause.
"I think 10 days without a game does affect you a bit in terms of match fitness and sharpness," he said.
"But I think we got going after a while. We started well but we just couldn't get the goal that we needed."
Sears certainly looks like he needs a goal. He has made 23 appearances in claret and blue since that magnificent start against Rovers, but not managed to score in any of them.
But Zola obviously thinks that Sears has a future at the club and under the expert tutelage of another diminutive striker, the youngster certainly has a fabulous opportunity to fulfill his potential.
All four 19-year-olds do, as well as 18-year-old Josh Payne who sat on the bench against West Brom.
Couple that quintet with the likes of Jack Collison and Mark Noble, and in the true traditions of West Ham United, they are once again beginning to build a team constructed with youth at its heart.
Here's to the future!