From the Academy

Academy Manager Terry Westley reveals his nominations for Young Hammer of the Year and the Dylan Tombides Award
Hello everyone,

On Wednesday evening, the Club will be hosting the sixth annual West Ham United Player Awards in aid of the Academy.

I am very much looking forward to spending the evening in the company of the Board, colleagues, the first-team squad and, of course, hundreds of fans whose loyal support of this event is so important to our Academy. I would like to publicly thank everyone who is attending Wednesday’s event, and I hope you enjoy what I am told is always a special occasion in the West Ham calendar.

As I approach the end of my first season as Academy Manager, I look back on the last ten months and am very proud of what we have achieved, but myself and all my staff know that there is still much we can improve on. In football, and especially when it comes to recruiting and developing players for the future, the hard work never ends.

We have followed a mantra of challenging and stretching the players to their limits this season, playing schoolboys at U18 level and scholars in the Development Squad whenever the opportunity has arisen. I am of the opinion that this approach not only improves the player, but gives us as coaches a greater insight into their ability and potential.

We have seen Reece Burke make his Barclays Premier League debut in recent weeks, while Reece Oxford, Josh Cullen and Manny Onariase have all been in and around Sam Allardyce’s squad this season. We want that number to grow in the future.

On Wednesday evening, we will recognise those scholars and young professionals who have shone the brightest over the past season, with the Young Hammer of the Year and Dylan Tombides Award trophies being presented.

I was tasked with picking the three nominees for each award, so here are my thoughts on the six very promising young players who are in the running.

Young Hammer of the Year

Reece Burke
Centre-back Reece is a second-year scholar who played for the first-team in pre-season and scored against Sampdoria, which gave him a big boost in confidence.

He then started the League Cup tie against Sheffield United and has since signed his first professional contract. Reece has trained with the first team throughout the season and performed strongly for the Development Squad when called upon.

He has been named on the bench for the first team on numerous occasions and, moving forward, he should be setting himself high goals towards establishing himself as a professional player next season.

Josh Cullen
Central midfielder Josh Cullen has caught the eye of the first-team coaching staff as a Development Squad player this season and has trained regularly with them during the week.

He is well-liked and has been accepted by the first-team players, which tells you that he has something about him. He is tenacious, plays with his heart on his sleeve and has captained the Development Squad.

An Ireland U19 international, Josh has been a substitute for the Club in the Premier League and is another one we hope will kick on to become a feature for the first team.

Lewis Page
Left-back Lewis Page caught my eye as an attacking, aggressive left-back soon after I arrived at the Club last summer. He is a modern player, which we are all looking for.

Lewis needed more confidence and we have given him that by extending his contract. He knows we believe in him and he has started to blossom as a result, training regularly with the first team.

Next season, I would expect Lewis to go out on loan and play league football and continue his development. He has made great strides this year.

Dylan Tombides Award

Jahmal Hector-Ingram
Jahmal Hector-Ingram deserves to be in and around the nominees for the Dylan Tombides Award when you consider the type of season he has had.

As a striker who is 16 and still at school, he has scored regularly for the U18s. He is in the youth team on merit and been able to play up an age-group and be one of the best strikers of his age in the country.

With hard work, I can see Jahmal really being a handful in youth and Development Squad football next season.

Reece Oxford
I work with Reece Oxford regularly as a coach and as a mentor and I sometimes have to pinch myself to remember that he is still 15, still at school and about to sit his GCSEs.

We talk about all the attributes you need to become a player and he looks like he has a chance to really develop. We want him to be a role model and for the young Academy players to look up to him.

For one who is so young, he has captained the Development Squad, played regularly at that level, trained regularly with the first team and led his country to the UEFA European U17 Championship finals.

Djair Parfitt-Williams
Djair Parfitt-Williams was a player who really caught my eye very early on in my time at the Academy because there are less and less players in the modern game who can go past people.

His major weapon is that he can beat you outside or inside and I think this boy is close to being able to go on the big stage and show people what he has got, which is a good change of pace and an ability to beat his man.

You will always see him with a ball at his feet, he wants to get better and he will knock on your door asking to do extra work, so I am delighted he is one of my nominees because he could be a special talent.

You will have to wait until Wednesday evening to discover who has won each of the two awards, but before then I would like to close by again thanking all those who have supported the Academy throughout the season, and especially those who will be attending the Player Awards.

Terry Westley
Academy Manager and Head of Player Development and Coaching