West Ham United are delighted to announce that promising defender Josh Pask has pledged his long-term future to the Club.

The 16-year-old has chosen to continue his development at the Academy of Football after rejecting interest from Arsenal and several other leading clubs.

Academy Director Tony Carr MBE said he and his coaching staff were looking forward to working with a player who joined West Ham at the age of eight.

"We are obviously delighted that Josh has decided that his long-term future lies with West Ham United," said Carr. "Many top clubs, including Champions League clubs, were chasing Josh, so we were delighted to fight them off for his signature.

"Josh spent most of last season with the Under-18s and quickly proved himself as a 16-year-old. We now look forward to developing him over the next few seasons and hope he will be a first-team player for West Ham in the not too distant future."

Pask, who will commence life as a full-time scholar when the U18s return to Little Heath for pre-season training next week, is a tall and composed centre-back.

As a schoolboy, the east London-born youngster played ten times for Steve Potts' youth team last season, impressing with his maturity, composure and all-round ability as West Ham reached the Barclays U18 Premier League Play-Off semi-finals.

Having overseen the development of the likes of Rio Ferdinand, James Tomkins and Potts himself during his 40-year career within the Academy, Carr is relishing the opportunity to develop another potentially top-class defender.

"Josh has been with us since he was eight and is from Manor Park, so he is a local boy and we are delighted that he has stayed loyal to his local Club," Carr explained.

"He is a centre-back who is very tall and lean, quick over the ground and good on the ball and in the air. He has a great attitude and goes about his game in a quiet but effective way.

"We look forward greatly to working with him and moving him up to the Under-21s as soon as possible."