Former Player Blog - Tony Cottee

West Ham United legend Tony Cottee discusses the emergence of Reece Burke and Sunday's season climax at St James' Park
Hello everyone,

I want to start by talking about young defender Reece Burke, who has recently made his Premier League debut for West Ham United.

I am absolutely thrilled for any kid who comes through the Academy, I really am, because being an Academy graduate myself I think we are long overdue.

I remember Mark Noble, James Tomkins and Jack Collison all coming through at about the same time, but believe it or not that was nine or ten years ago.

Although couple of lads have sampled the first team in recent years, we haven’t really had anyone who has come through and become a regular off the back of it.

Reece has got a long way to go, but he has made a great start to his career with a couple of clean sheets. I know we had a setback against Everton, but I think he has done really well and I hope he stays in the team because it’s good for everyone.

The Club has always prided itself on the Academy and saying how good it is, but there is no good saying how good it is if players aren’t coming through. We need to compete and get those players coming through.

It’s good for the team and the squad as well, to get local lads in there. Mark Noble is a great example because you can say to a teenager that they could go through the system and become the next Mark Noble. I think that’s great, so I wish Reece all the best and my message to him is ‘Keep up the good work’.

I must admit I am a little bit worried about the game on Sunday because Newcastle are fighting for their lives. It’s either Newcastle or Hull who will go down, but Newcastle know that if they win they will definitely stay up.

It’s important to finish the season with a good result and I think a draw is a good result. It’s always a tough place to go to anyway, Newcastle, and it’s important that we go there with the right attitude.

There will be 50,000 screaming Geordies going hell for leather to stay in the Premier League, but our away support has always been fantastic and they are the real fans, who travel week-in and week-out. We haven’t won away in the league this year, so it would be nice to give something back.

We can’t worry about Newcastle. That’s their fault for being so poor in the last part of the season and if they get relegated, that’s not down to us. We need to give 100 per cent effort and reward the fans, go and applaud them at the end of the game and thank them for their wonderful support, as always.

Safe trip to everyone traveling to St James’ Park, and to all of you, enjoy the summer!

Come on you Irons!