Cullen ready to play his part in West Ham's fight for Premier League survival
Lifelong Hammer Josh Cullen is ready to play his part in securing West Ham United’s Premier League future.
The young midfielder has been in and around the first-team squad since returning from a loan spell at Championship club Bolton Wanderers, impressing in three Emirates FA Cup ties with his accurate passing, intelligent movement and courage, particularly when he played on after losing a tooth at Shrewsbury Town.
After a further month of training and being named in David Moyes’ matchday squad for six of the last seven matches, the 21-year-old is eyeing more Premier League game-time as West Ham seek the points required to secure their safety.
Hopefully I can push on again and try to push from being on the bench and in the squad to being in the team and getting some appearances before the end of the season
“It’s been great to be back. Obviously being out on loan at Bolton for the first half of the season was more valuable experience for me, playing in the Championship and getting some more games under my belt and developing as a player for a further six months.
“There was a change in manager, so I was keen to come back here and show the new manager what I was all about and try and impress him, so I came back and played in a few games and have been back in the mix. Hopefully I’ve done enough to show him I have a future at the Club.
“I did enough to warrant staying on for the rest of the season, which I’m doing now, and hopefully I can push on again and try to push from being on the bench and in the squad to being in the team and getting some appearances before the end of the season.”
Cullen was among three youngsters who returned to the Club in January – Reece Oxford and Reece Burke were the other two – and he could have been sent back to Bolton for the remainder of the season. The Republic of Ireland U21 midfielder therefore took great confidence when Moyes told him he would remain with the Hammers instead.
“I had a couple of conversations with the gaffer about what was best for me and we came to the decision that it was best for me to stay here, and I was up for that challenge.
“I never for one minute thought that I would stay and go straight into the first team, but I’m up for the fight and hopefully, as time goes on, I can keep impressing him in training.
“It was a good sign that he wanted to keep me around, so hopefully I can keep developing and hopefully my chance will come and, when it comes, I can take it.”
Cullen certainly took his chance in the aforementioned FA Cup ties, and has since more than held his own in training sessions that have seen him tackle experienced international players on a daily basis.
While he may not have the same resume as his teammates yet, the Essex-born player is determined to make his own mark in a Claret and Blue shirt, whenever the next opportunity arises.
“As a young player, you have to take every day training with those players as experience. People say about getting experience by going out on loan, but coming back and training with the quality of players we have got at this Club is an experience in itself and one which should help develop me as a player.
“Going up against those players is a great challenge for me and hopefully I can push them and create some healthy competition, and that they know I’m here and pushing for a first team spot. It will also push me on as I know I have to be even better to get into the team, so it’s good to have that competition around.
“I’ve just got to stay patient, keep doing what I am doing in training, keep working and when the manager calls upon me, make sure I’m ready, I do myself justice when I go out there and do as well as I know I can.”