West Ham’s U23 team were relegated from the Premier League 2 despite winning at The London Stadium last night.
The young Hammers beat already-crowned champions Everton 2-1 but it was not enough to keep them afloat in the top-flight of U23 football.
But despite their relegation, five West Ham starlets stood out last night. While Dan Kemp and Xande Silva have earned plaudits all season, these five shone against Everton.
Ben Johnson was a shock inclusion in West Ham’s starting line-up against Manchester City earlier this season. The 19-year-old became the first West Ham player born in the 2000s to make their first-team debut.
Since his 60-minute cameo at The Etihad Stadium, Johnson has not got back into the senior side. But he is highly-rated and he signed a new long-term contract in East London.
Johnson scored his first ever goal for the U23 team last night with a low long-range piledriver into the bottom corner. This was a further example of his exciting potential.
Jeremy Ngakia is a lesser-known U23 player but his performance last night was eye-catching. Predominantly a right-back or winger, Ngakia thrived in the left-back role.
He played a major role in both of West Ham’s goals last night. The 18-year-old did not provide an assist but he contributed heavily in the build-up with surging runs down the left flank.
Conor Coventry made his first-team debut against Macclesfield Town earlier this season. And the club believe he has a big future.
The Republic of Ireland youth international dictates play in midfield with strong tackling and an exquisite range of passes. Last night, the 19-year-old provided an assist for West Ham’s second goal, teeing up Johnson to crash home from distance.
Grady Diangana was dropped back into the U23 squad for this vital game and he got on the scoresheet. The diminutive attacking midfielder poked home from close range to open the scoring.
The 21-year-old has enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season, scoring twice on his debut against Macclesfield and playing a handful of games in the Premier League.
With 20 first-team games under his belt now, the England under-20 starlet will be aiming for a regular spot in the first-team.
West Ham fans have been calling for Nathan Holland’s first-team call-up but the closest he has come was being named as a substitute at Old Trafford.
The 20-year-old has returned from a long-term injury and provided an incredible haul of two goals and eight assists in 11 Premier League 2 matches.
It cannot be long before Manuel Pellegrini uses the former Everton winger in his first-team plans.