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Will West Ham boss give youngsters a chance to shine?

Diego Poyet Diego Poyet

Thursday, July 10, 2014
1:56 PM

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce has not got a great track record when it comes to playing youngsters, will he change his tune this season?

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Aaron CresswellAaron Cresswell

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce hasn’t exactly got the best record when it comes to younger players at the club, writes Dave Evans.

Ravel Morrison was given his chance, but then fell by the wayside, while the likes of Dan Potts, Matthias Fanimo, Leo Chambers and Elliot Lee have all flirted with the first team without really getting their opportunity.

Robert Hall, one of the hottest prospects at the club in years, had to move on in order to get a chance, as Allardyce has always been wary of giving youth it’s head – perhaps not too surprising given the performance of the youngsters at Nottingham Forest in the 5-0 FA Cup defeat in January.

But with two new arrivals at the club in the past week, perhaps the emphasis is switching for the boss and he is ready to give younger players an opportunity.

West Ham's Sam Allardyce (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)West Ham's Sam Allardyce (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Diego Poyet, the 19-year-old midfielder, joined on Tuesday in a four-year deal following the expiry of his contract at Championship outfit Charlton Athletic, after the clubs agreed a compensation fee.

And he is hoping to play his first game on Saturday in the friendly with Stevenage.

“We’ve got a game on Saturday,” said the youngster. “I don’t know when my first game will come, but if I get a chance then that will be brilliant.”

So what sort of player is Poyet? He certainly knows his own ability.

“I’m a defensive midfielder who likes to break up play, pass the ball around and get about the pitch,” explained Poyet, who made 23 appearances for the Addicks last season, though he didn’t score a goal.

“I like to help the defence as much as I can, do my job and help the team to win.”

Aaron Cresswell may be 24, but like Poyet, he has no experience at the top level and the question is will Allardyce give him his chance or stick with the tried and trusted Joey O’Brien at left back.

Cresswell, who was voted into the Championship team of the Year at Ipswich last season, is hoping that he gets his chance too.

“Hopefully I can hit the ground running,” he said. “When I started off I was at Tranmere and was there for three years, then I had three years at Ipswich, so I’m looking forward to starting here.

“It’s everyone’s ambition to play in the Premier League. I know we’ve got Spurs, Man City and Liverpool at home early on and there’s no such thing as an easy game in the Premier League, but I’m going to relish every one and hopefully I can play a big part in it.”

That is the question. Will he, or Poyet for that matter, be given their chance to shine?

Poyet will have to vye with Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Kevin Nolan and Morrison for a place in that West Ham midfield and in the past, Allardyce has almost always opted for experience.

There is a new wave of optimism at Upton Park at the moment. Hope of a new, attacking, free-flowing side, insisted upon by the owners has got supporters excited.

How much playing time the likes of Cresswell, Poyet and Morrison get will indicate just how justified that excitement was.

We shall see.

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