Doneil Henry may have played just three games in English football – while on loan at Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers – but the Canadian defender has already proved he is worthy of a place in West Ham’s first-team squad.
The Hammers’ co-owner David Sullivan has revealed that the club may look to bring in another centre-back in the summer after being caught short in that position for the second successive season.
This would limit Henry’s chances of game time further and Sullivan suggested the youngster could be sent out on loan next term, but they may be better served throwing him straight into their squad.
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“Two years in a row now we’ve been caught out in central defence so it might be that we look to strengthen in that area for next season,” Sullivan told the official club website.
“We have Doneil Henry of course and he won impressive reviews for his performances at Blackburn Rovers before getting injured. If he’s ready for the Premier League then he could get a chance, otherwise it might be that he goes out on loan again to gain more experience.”
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The 21-year-old centre-back signed for the Hammers from Cypriot side Apollon Limassol in January but couldn’t get a game in a claret and blue shirt so was allowed to join Blackburn on a one-month loan.
After massively impressing during his three starts in the Championship, Henry sustained a hamstring injury that effectively ended his season and with West Ham suffering a defensive injury crisis of their own it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Despite Henry’s loan spell being cut short the defender was a stand-out player in each of his performances for Blackburn and their manager Gary Bowyer spoke very highly of him.
He helped the team to three successive wins and received the man of the match award during the 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
In 250 minutes of action he averaged four tackles, four interceptions and seven clearances per game. He also showed that he’s a threat in opposition penalty boxes, too, by claiming an assist. His reading of the game was superb and he has great strength, which bodes well for his chances of succeeding in England’s top flight.
Ready for action
It’s been reported that Bowyer could make a move to take the defender back to Ewood Park at the end of the season and should West Ham sign another centre-back that may well happen.
Although the defender himself would probably much rather a chance of playing in the Premier League for the Irons, something he looks more than capable of doing.
When comparing his statistics with the likes of Winston Reid and James Tomkins – the Hammers’ first choice centre-back pairing – Henry outshines both of them. Of course the numbers are hardly conclusive as he only played three matches, but they certainly suggest he would be able to come in and do a good job as cover.
West Ham have been linked with the highly-rated FC Basel defender Fabian Schar in recent weeks, with outlets reporting that the east London outfit have provisionally agreed a £5million fee for the Switzerland international.
While this would be a great signing for the Hammers it could potentially leave them in a predicament over who to start, with someone likely of being left unhappy and on the bench.
“If we do decide to buy, the challenge would be then trying to keep four central defenders happy but you do then have the cover for when you get injuries as we seem to have a habit of losing our centre halves for key parts of the season,” Sullivan added.
Schar would certainly bring strength-in-depth at the back, but in Henry they have a hungry youngster who’s raring to impress and fully capable of standing in. Also, by sticking with the Canada international they could use the funds needed to bring Schar in on other areas.
Do you think West Ham should give Doneil Henry a chance next season, or would signing Fabian Schar be the smart move? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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