The Academy of Football?

With the transfer window open, it is getting harder and harder for the youth to break into some first teams.

With the transfer window open, it is getting harder and harder for the youth to break into some first teams.

West Ham have always been known for giving their youth a chance and in doing so have produced some of the biggest names in football. The best way for these youngsters to gain the experience and confidence needed to succeed at the top is to send them out on-loan. One player that is becoming familiar at West Ham is Dan Potts.

Having previously been onloan to Colchester United, Potts has come back to West Ham and played in both third round matches against Manchester United. Many will now know him for clashing with Arsenal’s Sagna at the Emirates recently

The son of former West Ham defender, Steve Potts, Dan has followed in his fathers footsteps and is playing first team football at West Ham. Having been diagnosed with leukaemia at the tender age of just 12 and given the all clear at 15, you would not believe what he had gone through. Potts is a well respected young man. He made his first team debut in December 2011 v Barnsley and went on to win the Young Hammer of the Year award in 2012. Watching Potts, he seems a confident, positive defender with a lot of stamina.

He is definitely not afraid to get involved and give his all and he is surrounded by players that he can learn from and he shows passion when wearing the claret and blue. A few youngsters we have seen but know little about is Elliot Lee and George Moncur. Again, these are both sons of ex-West Ham players, Rob Lee and John Moncur. I remember watching all three of their dad’s playing for West Ham when I was a child in the 90’s and I greet the prospect of watching these three grow into quality players and represent the club they love.

Lee made his first team debut against Manchester United in the FA cup recently having signed a professional contract in August 2012. A striker who captains the West Ham under 18 squad, he is one for the future. Midfielder Moncur signed his professional contract with West Ham in September 2010, sadly, we have not seen much action on the pitch from him either.

Moncur did, however, make his debut in August 2012 against Crewe Alexandra in the League cup. He was then shipped out on-loan to AFC Wimbledon in January 2012. Having played here, he has gained caps for the England u18 and u19 squads. Another player who has fantastic potential to make it big is Jordan Spence. A right-back, he has the ability to move to centre-back. A fast paced player who is not afraid to show others what he is capable of

A little older than the others, 22-year-old Spence has gained a lot of on-loan experience having played for Leyton Orient, Scunthorpe and Bristol City. Having been with West Ham since 2004, he is still finding his feet with the West Ham first team, Spence made his debut nearly three years ago against Manchester City as a substitute. He went on to make his first start in the 3-2 loss away to Wigan Athletic on 15th May 2011 which saw us relegated. Spence has also represented England at every youth level possible.

So, who knows which of these four youngsters will go on to represent England in the first team or move to a ‘bigger’ club or stay at West Ham and help us achieve our first piece of silverware since 1981? Having the privilege of watching three of their fathers play for West Ham, it is an amazing thought of watching these four follow in their footsteps and grace us with their skills, qualities and passion and give their all when they pull on the claret and blue. After all, we are known as ‘The Academy of Football’ for the very reason we produce the best youngsters in the country, if not the world.

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