Collison: Academy boys will inspire the next generation

Joe Powell, Grady Diangana, Conor Coventry and Declan Rice after the 8-0 win over Macclesfield Town


Jack Collison has spoken of his pride at seeing four Academy of Football graduates in action in Wednesday’s 8-0 Carabao Cup third-round win over Macclesfield Town.

Grady Diangana started the tie and scored two second-half goals – both assisted by substitute Joe Powell – while Conor Coventry and the more experienced Declan Rice also excelled.

And current U18s coach and fellow Academy product Collison was delighted to see West Ham United’s young stars shine on the big stage at London Stadium.

“What a night!” he beamed. “It’s a proud night for the Academy and it will go a long way in terms of trying to inspire the next generation as the boys have seen that, with hard work, there will be opportunities.

“To finish the game with four Academy products on the pitch and for them to have played so well was fantastic.

“I felt like there was a real good buzz around the stadium the entire night. Obviously the four points from the last two Premier League games were two good performances, so to cap it off with that by scoring eight goals and with some key players getting some good minutes was fantastic.

“The highlight for me, though, was the young boys doing so well and Grady with his two goals and his overall performance, his movement, his willingness to get on the ball and his hard work all round. I’m sure they will be over the moon and keen to get some more opportunities on a regular basis.”

To finish the game with four Academy products on the pitch and for them to have played so well was fantastic

Jack Collison

Collison said he and his fellow Academy coaches – Academy Director Terry Westley, U23s coaches Liam Manning and Steve Potts and U18 coach Mark Phillips – will use the examples set by Rice, Diangana, Coventry and Powell to encourage their young professionals and scholars to emulate their teammates and catch the eye of manager Manuel Pellegrini.

“Now the challenge for us is to try and find the next one to make his debut and challenging the young boys by asking them ‘Which one of you will be the next one to push his way up?’,” he continued.

“It was certainly a proud night for the Academy and a wonderful night for the squad and it must give them confidence now.

“We’ve produced two cracking performances going into the weekend and hopefully it’s a good time to play Manchester United with everything going on around them.”