Five for the future

Tony Carr is hoping for big things from the latest quintet of Academy graduates to sign professional contracts with West Ham United.

Under-18 captain Matt Fry, fellow defender Tony Brookes, midfielder Ollie Lee and forward Anthony Edgar have all signed one-year deals with the club this month, while winger Daniel Kearns will sign on his return from his native Northern Ireland.

All five impressed hugely for Carr's youth team last term, while also making the successful transition to Alex Dyer's reserve squad during the second half of the 2008/09 season.

Academy Director Carr, who has overseen the youngsters' development over the past few seasons, believe all five have what it takes to make it to the big-time.

However, the coach has warned them that only hard work and 100 per cent dedication will see them force their way into Gianfranco Zola's first-team squad.

"These contracts are a reward for their efforts in the Academy," Carr told "All five of them have made great improvements during their time with me and my coaches and have fully justified the deals they have signed.

"I spoke with Gianfranco and his coaching staff to discuss those players from the Academy that I believed should be rewarded and I believe Matt, Tony, Ollie, Daniel and Anthony all have what it takes.

"It is now up to them to show the first team coaching staff what they can do and prove themselves all over again."

The five graduates will initially form part of West Ham's Barclays Premier Reserve League South squad, but the teenagers will hope to follow in the footsteps of Mark Noble, Jack Collison, James Tomkins, Josh Payne and Junior Stanislas, all of whom have been integrated into Zola's first-team squad.

Carr has urged his former pupils to knuckle down and give themselves the best possible chance of earning themselves a new deal at the end of the 2009/10 season.

"They have only got to look at the likes of Josh, James, Jack and Junior to see that it is possible to break through into the first team. All of them have done that during the past two years," added Carr.

"The route is there for them to follow, so it is up to them to work hard and make the necessary improvements needed to play in the Barclays Premier League."