Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Allardyce calls on youth to step up

West Ham youngster Robert Hall proved himself well against Wigan

Sam Allardyce hopes Tuesday night's thrashing at the hands of Wigan will stun some of his young players in to realising how much they need to improve to play regular first-team football for West Ham.

Teenagers Dylan Tombides, Daniel Potts, Robert Hall and Matt Fanimo were all given a chance to impress Allardyce in the Capital One Cup clash against Wigan, but they all left Upton Park in disappointment after a 4-1 defeat.

All four have helped West Ham climb to the top of National Group One of the newly-formed Barclays Under-21 Premier League, but Allardyce said: "With a result like that it can help them find out that they have to make massive leaps and strides to play consistently at this level. They do have ability and that will develop over the future hopefully."

The under-21 league, which began this season as a means of trying to help bridge the gap between academy and first-team level, has helped the young players develop, Allardyce says.

But the former Bolton boss is still a firm believer in the loan system as a way of developing players and he is therefore likely to allow some of his current crop to leave on a temporary basis.

He said: "We are doing very well at under-21 level, which is always nice to see, but it can only develop them so far, so a loan is the next step for some of them so we will let some of them go out."

Of all the young players on show against Wigan, Hall was probably the only one who could be satisfied with his performance.

The 18-year-old academy product was making his first start, but showed few nerves as he tested Ali Al-Habsi early on before striking the bar in the second half.

The forward, who has also made two substitute appearances this season, insists all the young players at West Ham are desperate to make it in to Allardyce's long-term plans despite Tuesday's big defeat.

"I and all the other young boys want to play," he said. "It has been our dream since we were young. We aren't here just to make the numbers up. We are training hard every day. Playing (regularly) is what we want to do."