Bilic does not want to burn out Hammers prospect Reece Oxford
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has explained defender Reece Oxford's omission from the England squad for the FIFA Under-17s World Cup in Chile later this month.
Bilic revealed that the club remains in talks with the Football Association over the 16-year-old defender after Saturday's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Sunderland, in which he was an unused substitute, as they attempt to nurse him through his emergence into senior football.
The Croatian said: "It's a long story. We are trying to sort that situation out with the FA and with Reece, of course.
"Reece has made a huge step from last year. He is an exceptional talent that we have to nurture.
"Until this season, he was training something like two times a week and from then, straight away he is training with the first team, he is playing games, he's training every day - sometimes twice a day - and he is still growing.
"For a kid who is 16, we have made a long-term plan for him to not to affect his body and his development by training.
"If we let him go for one and a half months or whatever, it's no good, and to be fair, my opinion is that if he plays, he should play for the Under-21s at least. And we need him in the first team."