Burke and Cullen impress on return to West Ham colours

Reece Burke


Academy of Football graduates Reece Burke and Josh Cullen produced impressive performances in West Ham United’s goalless Emirates FA Cup third-round draw at Shrewsbury Town on their return from loan spells at Bolton Wanderers.

The Hammers were below-par at Montgomery Waters Meadow on Sunday, as manager David Moyes admitted after the tie, which will now be settled by a replay at London Stadium on the evening Tuesday 16 January.

However, the two youngsters, as well as fellow Academy product Declan Rice, could be absolved of blame for West Ham’s struggles in seeing off their League One opponents at the first attempt.

Republic of Ireland U21 captain Cullen was the star of the show, using the ball intelligently and making six tackles playing on the right of a three-man midfield.

A neat, tidy and combative player very much in the mould of his mentor Mark Noble, the 21-year-old returned from his loan spell at Bolton Wanderers and showed Moyes the qualities that saw him win widespread acclaim at Bradford City last season.

Cullen was always willing and available to receive possession, with his 57 touches of the ball only exceeded by the 83 made by fellow countryman Rice, 64 by fellow Bolton loanee Burke and 61 by midfield partner Pedro Obiang. The diminutive midfielder put in seven crosses – one more than all of his teammates combined – and won a team-high five free-kicks for his side.


Josh Cullen and Reece Burke combined down the right flank, while the trio's overall defensive contribution was impressive


The Westcliff-on-Sea born player also showed his courage by playing on to complete the full game, despite losing his front tooth after receiving a high boot to the face from Shrewsbury captain Abu Ogogo with 15 minutes remaining.

Cullen’s bravery in continuing was praised by his teammates, BBC pundits Gary Lineker and Ian Wright and fans of West Ham and other clubs on social media.

Burke (above) was also impressive, playing in a right wing-back role that same him combine often with his close pal.

The defender stuck to his task well, making a team-high seven tackles, along with six clearances and an interception. The 21-year-old even produced one of West Ham’s two on-target goal attempts with a first-half header.


Declan Rice in action at Shrewsbury Town


Last but by no means least, Rice continued his recent form playing on the left of Moyes’ three-man defence, making six interceptions and two tackles to go alongside a team-high 83 touches and six clearances.

The 18-year-old again showed great composure, particularly when his team came under pressure from the Shrews, positioning himself superbly on numerous occasions and never being afraid to carry the ball forward when the opportunity arose.

With the replay falling between two important Premier League fixtures with Huddersfield Town and FC Bournemouth, it would come as no surprise if Moyes were to again put faith in these three talented youngsters when Shrewsbury visit London Stadium a week on Tuesday.