Carr eyes bright future

Tony Carr knows a thing or two about identifying and developing talented young footballers.

The Academy Director has spent nearly four decades working for the future of West Ham United, coaching and guiding aspiring youngsters in the hope of uncovering the next big thing.

Over the years, Carr and his staff have done a fantastic job, bringing through dozens of players who have gone on to perform at the very highest level.

With that in mind, when he speaks about having high hopes about a number of players currently making their way through the Academy of Football, it would make sense to listen.

Speaking to fans at the recent inaugural Supporter Advisory Forum at the Boleyn Ground, Carr revealed his excitement at the progress of scholars Dylan Tombides, Robert Hall, Blair Turgott and Paul McCallum.

Tombides was named in the first-team squad for the final Barclays Premier League match of the season against Sunderland, while Hall, Turgott and McCallum have all appeared at reserve-team level in recent months.

"Of the group of players we have at the moment aged from 16 to 18, which is the full-time group, I think there are four or five who have got a real chance.

"We have two young strikers who have done really well this year. Dylan got the Academy Player of the Year award and has done very well. His rise has been really meteoric and I didn't expect him to make this leap so quickly. Whether he continues to make that leap or he reaches a plateau and doesn't go any further, that is the hazard of youth development.

"Young Robert is an England youth international who has got all the talent in the world. He needs to get physically stronger and we'll have to be patient with him but he's still only 17."

"Blair has had a successful season with us and with England has been called into the squad going to Mexico for the Under-17 World Cup.

"We've signed a boy from Dulwich Hamlet, Paul McCallum, who we felt was a bit of a gamble. He's a boy who's scored a lot of goals but he's not really been coached or been in the professional environment. Unfortunately, he turned his ankle a couple of times and was ruled out for the season. We'll see where another season of training takes him, especially with a full pre-season under his belt."

Further up the production line, Carr also spoke glowingly of this summer's new intake of scholars, who will begin full-time training at Little Heath in July.

Among them are England U16 captain Leo Chambers, goal-hungry centre forward Elliot Lee and Republic of Ireland attacking midfielder Kieran Sadlier.

"For me, there are lots of young players and even some schoolboys coming through. We've got Leo Chambers who is in the Glen Johnson mode and I think could be a very, very good and very exciting player. That is not a hype - that is my genuine feeling.

"We've got Eliott Lee, who is Robert Lee's son and an out-and-out and excellent goal scorer and a good all-round player. We've also got Kieran Sadlier, who is an Irish youth international - an English boy with Irish parents who comes from Hertfordshire.

"Those three are coming on to the staff on 1 July, so I do feel that, through the club, there is some young talent there."