Highly-rated youngster Reece Oxford could be thrown into the mix to make his Premier League debut against Manchester United on Sunday, amidst West Ham’s latest defensive injury crisis.
Should he be included the 16-year-old will become the youngest Premier League player to appear for the Irons since Neil Finn made his debut for the club in January 1996.
Sam Allardyce may be reluctant to play the teenager in a game where he could be exposed by United’s abundance of attacking prowess, however with the injuries piling up his options are limited.
Much like last term West Ham’s entire back-line is dismantled through injuries, leaving them in a tough predicament. Winston Reid, James Tomkins and James Collins are all out, meaning they may have no senior centre-backs to choose from for the visit of the Red Devils.
Carl Jenkinson is also injured but he and Tomkins are in with a slim chance of making the Sunday fixture at the Boleyn Ground.
Cheikhou Kouyate is also in with a shout of returning to the side and if so he could slot in to the centre-back position comfortably as he played there a lot during his time at Anderlecht.
Meanwhile 21-year-old Canadian recruit Doneil Henry may also be considered for his first start for the club providing he recovers in time from a knock.
It would be great to see Oxford handed his senior debut at such a young age should the senior players not return to fitness in time, giving us a chance to see what all the fuss is about.
United were one of many teams interested in signing the defender but he committed his long-term future to the Hammers and could be rewarded with some first-team action.
Any minutes in the Premier League at this stage of his development would give the defender some invaluable experience, however it may be risky to throw him in at the deep end to face some of the best forwards in world football.
But, as West Ham’s academy manager Terry Westley recently stated ‘he is one of the best centre-backs in Europe’ so he may rise to the occasion, he’s represented England at Under-17 level and is tipped as a future star.
His inclusion on Sunday would certainly give Boleyn Ground a big lift and possibly induce an atmosphere that could intimidate a less than convincing United outfit on a day where only one outcome seems likely - an away win.
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