Cullen delighted with full senior debut

Josh Cullen impressed on his full senior debut against FC Lusitans
West Ham United midfielder Josh Cullen described his delight at making his full senior debut for his boyhood club. 

After impressing as a second half substitute in the first leg last week, the 19-year-old avid West Ham fan had a lively game at the heart of midfield, playing 85 minutes in a 1-0 win over FC Lusitans in Andorra. 

Speaking after the match, Cullen said: “I’m delighted to have made my full debut. I was delighted to play at Upton Park last week and now to make me full debut is great. The main thing tonight was that we got through, we came here to do a job and we did that. 

“Personally I thought I did fairly well. It was a tough game. I think there’s more to come from myself and more to come to from the other younger lads.”

Despite holding a three goal cushion, the Hammers had to work hard for their win after Diafra Sakho was given a straight red card for an off the ball incident. 

However, the Hammers regrouped and Elliot Lee, who was also making his senior debut, curled an effort into the far corner to seal the win.  

Cullen continued to assess the team performance, saying: “I think we played well under difficult circumstances, obviously the sending off made it a lot harder, the pitch wasn’t great either, so it was a tough match. We’ve come through both games, and now we’re through to the next round comfortably.”

The Hammers will now face Maltese side Birkirkara who beat Armenian outfit Ulisses in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. 

So far, the Europa League has proved to be a great opportunity to blood several highly rated Academy prospects. In the past week, Cullen, alongside Reece Oxford, Lewis Page and Elliot Lee have all started, while Djair Parfitt-Williams and Amos Nasha both featured off the bench.   

“Up next we’ve got a nice trip to Malta to look forward to and enjoy. Hopefully we’ll improve as we get used to playing with each other and get through to the further rounds. 

“The Europa League is a great chance for all the younger players to show what they can do. It’s good that we’ve been given a chance and hopefully that continues. It’s a good opportunity for us younger players to try and get established in the first team. 

“It’s been a great week for the Academy. It just shows that there is still a production line into the first team. We had three or four young players out there today so it’s brilliant for the Academy and the U21s. It’s time us and others pushed on.”

Among the 500 strong West Ham contingent was Cullen’s father, Anthony, who made a mammoth 44-hour round trip in support of his son.    

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to my dad yet, he’s had to shoot off. He’s got a 22 hour coach journey to get home. He made the trip to come out and watch me so I’m very grateful.”

While it may only be the early days of the Slaven Bilic era, Cullen praised the effect that the Croat’s arrival has already had.  

“Slaven’s arrival has freshened things up. Everyone has tried to impress him, he’s got a great presence about him. I’ve enjoyed working with him so far and hopefully that continues. 

“This is only the start for me, hopefully I can push on and get a few games in the cups and of course the League.”