Scholars sign up
Academy Director Tony Carr has spoken of his excitement after 13 lucky youngsters agreed to sign scholarship terms with West Ham United.
All 13 signed their first two-year scholar contracts during as special ceremony held at the Boleyn Ground. It was a fitting sign of the production line rolling on just as the club prepares to honour Carr with his testimonial match on Wednesday night.
England Under-17 striker Robert Hall, England U16 midfielders Matthias Fanimo and Blair Turgott and Australian-born forward Dylan Tombides head a crop of players Carr believes can have bright futures in the game.
The quartet have all graduated to the Hammers' U18 side this season, while all 13 have played their part in Paul Hilton's U16 team's success in the FA Premier Academy League this term.
However, Carr is experienced enough to know that, without the necessary combination of hard work, dedication and talent, the aspiring youngsters will not follow in the footsteps of the dozens of Academy graduates who have emerged before them.
"This group has had a very good schoolboy period and they have been a good team for a long time already. Now they have got to take that to the professional level as scholars.
"Of course, the most important thing is their ability, but it's also about a lot of hard work. I am sure these 13 players have the character to take their careers to the next stage.
"I don't want to set any targets for them all, but I do think they are a good group and hopefully they can carry on through into their scholarships.
"They have created a great reputation for themselves as schoolboys and all the other teams will be trying to beat them, so it is up to them to rise to the challenge."
Carr offered his own assessment on the 13 players who will become first-year scholars this summer:
Matthias Fanimo - Matthias has had a good season with the U16s and has also played for England regularly at U16 level. He is a winger and is equally happy playing on either flank. He has good pace and a good left foot.
Robert Hall - Robert is an England U17 striker who has scored a lot of goals this season. He was promoted to the U18 squad very early in the season and has done particularly well.
Declan Hunt - Declan is a tall midfield player who is a good ball-player and he has also been integrated into the U18 squad after a good season with the U16s. We hope he can take the next step and progress to the professional ranks.
Lamar Hurley - Lamar has played two or three times for the U18s already and has done quite well. He is a versatile midfield player.
Jake Larkins - Jake is a goalkeeper. He is a local boy from Dagenham and is a big favourite of our Academy goalkeeper coach Jerome John. We hope he can continue improving over the next couple of years.
Kenzer Lee - Kenzer is a left centre-back who is a whole-hearted player. He gives his all in every game he plays. He is already six-foot-plus and needs to keep maturing and developing.
Danny Potts - Danny is the son of former West Ham United defender Steve Potts and, like his Dad, he is a full-back. He has done very well this season and has got stronger as it has gone on. He has a good left foot.
Jack Powell - Jack is a central midfield player and another local boy. He has played well for the U16s this year and is a good ball-player with a fair bit of pace.
Dylan Tombides - Dylan was born in Australia but he came to the UK a few years ago and now lives in Chadwell Heath. He has been with us for a couple of seasons and has scored loads of goals playing alongside Robert Hall. Hopefully, he will continue his scoring rate for the U18s.
Blair Turgott - Blair is an England U16 international. He has done very well playing on the right or left side of the midfield. He can run with the ball and can beat players with ease. We think he has a bright future.
Dominic Vose - Dominic has been with us for the past two years, having previously played for Fulham and Crystal Palace. He decided that West Ham United was the club for him and he has done very well playing in the midfield this year.
David Wootton - David is another goalkeeper and another who is highly thought of by our Academy goalkeeper coach Jerome John. We hope he will continue to develop and this could come by him being sent out on loan to gain more experience next season.
Jake Young - Jake is a right-back like his older brother, the Aston Villa and England defender Luke Young. He is another whole-hearted player and likes to get forward when the opportunity arises.