Bondz N'Gala's encouraging progress this season has, so far, seen him make the substitutes bench twice.
Now, with eight games to go N'Gala will be hoping to join fellow youngsters Josh Payne and Junior Stanislas in making his first-team bow this season.
In the final instalment of his three-part interview, Academy director Tony Carr, who has overseen N'Gala and fellow academy graduates Payne and Stanislas' development since they arrived at the club, gives his verdict on the Newham-born central defender.
"Bondz came to us at about 13 or 14 years of age and had no previous history at other clubs, just schools and Sunday football. We saw a hungry young lad who was keen to learn and wanted to learn and had a terrific attitude to training and improving, which he has done so steadily over the last four or five years. He has made real steady progress and has broken into the squad due to the situation the manager finds himself in. I spoke to him on Tuesday and he said being involved with the first team was so different and now he's had a taste, it's whet his appetite to want more. It's a big incentive for all these young players to keep working at their game and to not feel they've arrived yet. They've sampled that big time and now it's up to them to work to stay there," Carr said.
"Bondz plays centre-back and is a very aggressive type of player, very strong. He has a good pace about his game for a big lad and is quite dominant in the air as you'd expect from a six-foot-plus boy. He's made good strides and he needs to keep moving forward and making improvements and he's certainly done well. To get on the bench against Blackburn was a real bonus he probably wouldn't have expected this season. You can never predict when the opportunity comes and that's what I preach to all the young lads. You've got to keep working and showing what you are about as you never know. When that opportunity comes you've got to be ready to take it as many players get this far, have their opportunity and then don't take it as they're not ready and they go back down the pecking order to rise again. It's a lesson to all young lads that when they get the opportunity they have to be ready to take it."
Is there a chance any more Academy youngsters may make the breakthrough this season?
"You can't predict these things. There may be a player that is quite ready but there may be an England international blocking his path so he may have to go along the route of getting his experience on loan at various clubs. You can never predict these things, all you do say is we feel as a whole in the Academy we've got players with great potential and it's up to us to make them realise that potential. I think we've had three through this year and three last year, which is a fantastic two years for the production line of the Academy. We mustn't be too greedy but we do feel that there are players in the Academy for the foreseeable future."
For more information on Tony Carr's testimonial at West Ham United click here.