The controversy over Declan Rice’s contract throws Reece Oxford’s career trajectory into sharp contrast.

Once upon a time, he was in Rice’s position. An exciting prospect who could play in central defence and central midfield with equal aplomb, he was the next big thing.

This summer made it clear that his Hammers prospects are now bleak. The club’s inability to offload him has led him to turn out for Liam Manning’s Under 23 side.

Manning took his side to Exeter City in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night but the Young Hammers lost 2-0, for the second straight time in the competition.

Oxford was part of the team and Manning’s post-match comments do not make good reading for him.

Grasping opportunities

(Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

Manning berated his side for not taking the opportunity they had been handed. He told the club’s official website: “We knew it would be tough coming into it having a relatively young side but it’s a great opportunity for them to learn and show what they’re about but not enough of them took that opportunity tonight.

 

“As they grow up into senior players they will have to learn that there are distractions and challenges… that you may face and it shows how important concentration is.

“I think the lads need to understand how serious it is; they need to understand the seriousness and what full commitment actually looks like. You can’t keep losing football games.

“One of the things we said to them before tonight was ultimately this is their profession. They have a job to do, and if we ask them to set-up to counter what the opposition are doing, it’s their job to carry that out.”

Oxford is running out of chances

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Manning is absolutely right. Opportunities to impress at West Ham don’t come along all the time and it is vital to be so professional when they do.

Oxford knows that more than most after his fall from grace. The 6ft 3in former starlet must know his days are numbered at the club; only impressive performances will spare him now and he once again failed to deliver last night.

The contrast with Rice could not be more stark.

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