Cullen keen to build on promising start

Josh Cullen is ready to grab the next first team opportunity that comes his way
Highly rated teenage midfielder Josh Cullen said he is ready to grab the next first team opportunity with both hands as he aims to establish himself at his boyhood club.

The Southend-on-Sea native caught the eye during the Hammers’ Europa League run before making his Premier League bow in the historic 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. 

Reflecting on a promising start to the season, Cullen said: “It’s been a good start to the season, I knew I wouldn’t break into the squad immediately, we’ve got a great squad now, so it’ll be tough but I’ll keep on plugging away in the U21s and when I go away with Ireland, I’ll always try and do as well as I can.”

Modest off the pitch, he is certainly doing more than ‘plugging away’ on it. With Slaven Bilic said to be impressed with the youngsters exploits in training, he is also an integral player for the Development Squad.

Often captaining the side, the midfielder has helped inspire the Dev Squad to three wins in their last four games by scoring crucial goals in consecutive games: “We had a tough start to the season, people outside the Club probably thought we were a bad team, but that wasn’t case.

“We knew we were a good side but we lost to a few sloppy goals or late goals. We’ve got two on the bounce now so hopefully we can carry that on.”

However, with the Club aiming for a top half finish, if not higher, Cullen knows it’ll be a tough challenge ahead: “With the way the Club wants to go it’ll be tough. We want to be a top six club and the quality of the players here is about as good as it’s ever been, certainly that I can remember.

“It’s a challenge, but one I look forward too, you can always learn from the players that are here as well, that’s a good positive. You can always take tips from them and that helps to prove to people that I am good enough to play in the first team.”

Another positive for the all-action midfielder, is the fact he has taken his Club form with him when representing the Republic of Ireland.

Having made the step up from the U19s to the U21s, Cullen scored on his debut in a 4-1 win over Qatar U23.

He continued: “I’m very pleased to be playing for Ireland and doing well, I enjoy going away with them. To get that feedback and recognition is always nice, now it’s about me kicking on and trying to get into the first team here.”