Looking ahead for Fred

Gianfranco Zola has backed Freddie Sears to make a big impact in the future with West Ham Untied.

The 19-year-old has enjoyed a year of development under Zola's tutorship, making seven starts and 15 substitute appearances in all competitions this campaign.

But with Dean Ashton expected to return to full training for pre-season, competition for places will once again be fierce and Zola believes that a temporary spell learning his trade with another club may suit the Hornchurch-born forward.

"I think that the right thing to do for him will be to go on loan to play," Zola said. "He has worked hard here but has not been playing enough, sometimes ten minutes, sometimes a full game.

"Probably he never got what he wanted. He has improved as a player but he needs to play regularly."

Zola has seen first hand the benefit a loan move can have on young players to have graduated from the Academy.

James Tomkins played eight games during a six-week loan spell with Derby County earlier this season and has been a revelation since Zola bought him back into the first team.

Likewise, England Under-20 international Jordan Spence has just benefitted from playing 21 games while on loan at League One Leyton Orient. Now Zola is predicting the same scenario for the 19-year-old Sears.

"Unfortunately here it is difficult for him. Next season he will have the possibility of going on loan and to prove himself.

"Then he is will come back here as we believe that he is an important player for us in future."