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Tuesday 24 January Updated Thursday 19 February

John scores on Hammers bow

George John enjoyed a goal-scoring West Ham United debut as he hit the net in the Development Squad's 1-1 draw with Gillingham on Tuesday.

The Hammers' new loan signing from MLS club FC Dallas swivelled to smash a superb volley high into the net from the returning Matt Taylor's right-wing corner just 17 minutes into his Hammers career.

Taylor's comeback from a calf injury was another highlight, as was the sight of Guy Demel in action again after six weeks out with a thigh muscle problem.

John was the star of the show, however, looking calm in possession, strong in the tackle, quick to anticipate danger and generally assured on his first appearance in a claret and blue shirt.

The 24-year-old, whose most-recent action had been in an MLS Play-Off defeat by Thierry Henry's New York Red Bulls in October, is now looking forward to being given the chance to impress in Sam Allardyce's first team.

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"I pride myself on working hard - that's how I've achieved what I've been able to do," said the Seattle-born centre-back. "I think I'm a decent defender so I just do my job well and pass the ball to the guys who need it.

"I'm excited about the opportunity. England has the best football league in the world and I'm always up for a new challenge. The only way to get better is to play with better players.

"This opportunity presented itself and I said 'Why not?'. I'd like to take my career as far as I can take it and I would like to continue that career with a fantastic club like West Ham United."

Tuesday's game also saw Ruud Boffin, Dan Potts, Henri Lansbury, Gary O'Neil and Rob Hall enjoy welcome game-time as the Hammers dominated the opening 45 minutes against a Gillingham side that included six of the players who started their 4-3 League Two defeat by AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Development Squad coach Ian Hendon made a host of substitutions during the second half, giving run outs to Frank Nouble, Freddie Sears and new boy Joe Dixon, but it was the Gills who improved after the break, equalising from a right-wing cross on 53 minutes.

However, overall Hendon and the watching Big Sam will have been happy to see John look good on his first appearance for the club and both Taylor and Demel make successful returns from injury.

West Ham United XI: Boffin, Demel (Sanchez 46), Trialist, John, Potts, Hall, Lansbury (Trialist 46), O'Neil, Taylor (Sears 46), Trialist (Dixon 80), Montenegro (Nouble 46)
Subs not used: Wootton, Ruddock

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