Reece Oxford's performance against Bristol Rovers shows he is not first-team ready

West Ham’s under-23 side were beaten by Bristol Rovers last night in the Checkatrade Trophy.

The young Hammers travelled to The Memorial Stadium, where they fell to a 2-0 defeat.

Second-half goals from Alex Jakubiak and Tom Lockyer sealed West Ham’s fate. However, on another day, it could have been different with Xande Silva, Ajibola Alese and Sean Adarkwa all going close.

The under-23 side was captained by Reece Oxford. Once dubbed the next big thing, Oxford failed to stake his first-team claim last night.

Oxford vs. Bristol Rovers

BRISTOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18: Reece Oxford of West Ham United in action during the Checkatrade Trophy Southern Group D match between Bristol Rovers and West Ham United U21’s at Memorial Stadium on September 18, 2018 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

Oxford skippered the side but could not prevent a 2-0 loss. And it was his mistake which allowed Bristol Rovers in for the first goal.

The England under-20 international gave the ball away on the edge of the box and then dived in for a tackle.

This allowed Bristol Rovers to play a quick pass, move into the box and Jakubiak slotted in.

For a player hoping to catch Manuel Pellegrini’s eye, this was something he needed to avoid.

What does his future hold?

MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY – MARCH 02: Reece Oxford of Moenchengladbach runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and SV Werder Bremen at Borussia-Park on March 2, 2018 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. The match between Moenchengladbach and Bremen ended 2-2. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Oxford burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old, starring on debut against Arsenal. Able to play at centre-half or in defensive midfield, the 6ft 3in player was regarded as the next big thing.

The 19-year-old’s career has since tottered along. Many thought he would be a first-team regular by now, but he is still in the reserves.

Loan spells at Reading and Borussia Monchengladbach have helped his progress but he is not getting a look-in at West Ham.

But let’s not abandon hope. He is still a teenager, he has the physical attributes to thrive and he just needs to get his confidence back.

Playing in either a holding midfield role or in central defence, Oxford could break into the first-team at some point this season. But he needs to improve his game significantly after a poor showing against Bristol Rovers.

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