Carr driven by developing players

The emergence this week of Jack Collison and James Tomkins thrilled no one more than Academy director Tony Carr.

The youth-team supremo was delighted to see the 19-year-old Collison and 18-year-old Tomkins progress through the ranks to the first team. While neither figured against Manchester City, another Academy product was on the bench - with 20-year-old winger Kyel Reid coming on for his second league appearance.

The emergence of Collison and Tomkins meant there were four Academy graduates who faced Arsenal on New Year's Day, with Anton Ferdinand and Mark Noble also playing a part. While defender Tomkins did not get called upon, midfielder Collison played for nearly an hour - much to Carr's delight.

"It was a difficult game to come on - 2-0 down at the Emirates and you have got to come on and show what you can do. It was a fantastic experience for him and you can't buy that. He can only go on from there now. It is another first for him and it is great for the Academy."

Having had the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson under his charge over the years, it is clear Carr knows a thing or too about developing youngsters. The progress made by Collison and Tomkins is something he has used this week to motivate - were it even needed - the Academy talents hoping to follow in such illustrious footsteps.

"I said 'that's how close you are, if you are good enough' - it was a great reminder to the young players. Jack played a game with us two or three weeks ago and he was playing with those same players. That's how close they are to the first team. The bottom line is they have got to be good enough but if you are there is a route. There is other clubs that can't say that."

West Ham United, like Saturday's first-team opponents Manchester City, are gaining plenty of attention for producing the stars of tomorrow - and with the likes of defender Jordan Spence, midfielder Junior Stanislas and striker Freddie Sears, there is more to come. "We call it the production line, we call it the conveyor belt - that's what it is. It moves on and on," Carr added.

"There are players in every year group who we feel have got a chance of going the whole way. That's what we are about. Any youngster out there who has got ambition to be a player - this is the club to be at."