Belfast Telegraph

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."


From Belfast Telegraph