U23s clinch promotion
Our bright young U23 starlets have clinched promotion to the highest tier of youth Football the PL2 Division one, after a Play-Off victory of Newcastle on Tuesday night. It was the third time we had made the trip to St James’s Park this season losing and drawing previously, but this time we would leave The North East as Play-Off champions. The hosts took the lead on 19 minutes when Tom Heardman popped to head home from close range, however, it wouldn’t be long before we levelled with a well directed low strike from Toni Martinez to make it all square heading into half-time. We would come out firing on all guns in a dominant second half display and less than ten minutes into it, we led again and again it was Martinez from long range with his 12th U23’s goal of the season. It would prove to be a nervy last quarter as we held out for the historic victory through some fantastic late defending. A main part of the solid late defensive display was the efforts of captain Declan Rice who had this to say after the game in an interview with WHUFC.com: “We came out second half and we grafted, Toni was excellent”. Rice was clearly full of his praise for his teammates and especially Toni Martinez who has managed his 12 U23 goals this season despite spending the second half of the season on loan at Oxford United. The week may be about to be getting a hell of a lot better for the pair as they are both in line for their first team Premier League debuts later today when we face Burnley in our final game of the season . It has also been a week to remember for Marcus Browne and Domingos Quina who have both been nominated for PL2 Player of the Season for their fantastic form under Terry Westley this season, much like Toni Martinez, Marcus Browne has managed to thrive in The PL2 despite a loan spell in the lower Leagues, Browne turned out for Wigan Athletic in the second half of the season on loan. Both Browne and Quina have tasted first team Football having made appearances in The Europa League under Slaven Bilic in the early part of the season. While most of the onus is on the first team trying to finish our poor season with a win at Turf Moor, the future of home grown players certainly does look bright at West Ham United.
Reid out for ten weeks
It has been revealed this week by head of head of sports science Stijn Vanderbrouke that Winston Reid is the latest player to have been hit by our end of season injury plague. We now have 8 first team players missing tomorrow’s season-ending away game at Turf Moor, many of whom will barely make it back for the start of next season. However, the long-term knee problem will mean more than just missing pre-season for Winston Reid who will now miss the opportunity to captain his native New Zealand at The Confederations Cup in the summer. Reid has been suffering pain in his knee for several months and has finally now gone under the knife to remove a piece of bone that was growing in the wrong place. The former Midtylland man’s absence could pave the way for a first Premier League start for U23’s captain Declan Rice, but now that Angelo Ogbonna has also returned from injury, the pair are likely to share game time in today’s clash with Burnley.
Adrian has contract extended
It has been confirmed this week by Slaven Bilic in his pre-Burnley press conference that we have triggered a contract extension clause in the contract of our Spanish keeper Adrian San Miguel. The former Real Betis man is now under contract at The London Stadium until summer 2019; Adrian has recently returned to the first team and kept three clean sheets in four games to end the season on form after previously being dropped for Darren Randolph back in October. A couple of months ago Adrian’s future with us was plunged into uncertainty when he was receiving offers from Espanyol and his former club Real Betis whilst sitting on the sidelines. However, Adrian is now back in the first-team picture and showing good form to match, the cult heroes’ love affair with the fans now looks set to continue for few more years at least.
Lanzini receives Argentina call-up
Our Argentine midfielder Manuel Lanzini received the news that he has been called up to his national side for the first time on Friday night. ‘The jewel’ missed his first opportunity to represent his country at The Olympics last year as he was injured in a pre-tournament training session, but now Lanzini is set to earn his first Argentina cap in upcoming friendly’s against Brazil and Singapore. The call-up comes as a reward for the 24 year-olds sensational form this season which has included a career-high eight Premier League goals, the former River Plate man was also rewarded by winning The Players Player of the Season award at the end of season awards ceremony last week. It certainly has been a fantastic month for Lanzini who also managed to get the winner in our heroic home victory over Spurs just over two weeks ago and with more than one goal tomorrow The Argentine could also finish as our top goal scorer for the 2016/17 season. Manu certainly has had his best season to date and it certainly doesn’t look like it is going to be ending here.
Transfer gossip: Hammers eye attacking duo
It has been rumoured this weekend by The Daily Mail that we are readying a £20 million bid for young Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho. The 20-year-old burst onto the scene last season under Manuel Pellegrini for The Citizens scoring 14 goals in all competitions, but The Nigerian has struggled for as much game time this season under Pep Guardiola falling down the pecking order and only managed half of last season’s goal total. However, The Nigerian international is still regarded as one of the best young strikers in the world, so could the starlet be joining an entourage of fellow young prospects at The London Stadium next season? It has been reported in the last few days by The Daily Express that we have joined Stoke City in the race to sign Leeds striker Chris Wood. The 25-year-old has scored 30 goals in all competitions under Gary Monk this season, but with The Yorkshire club missing out on the Play-Offs, The Kiwi is likely to leave this summer. So could the £15 million-rated man be joining New Zealand teammate Winston Reid at The London Stadium next season?