West Ham fans were shocked to see teenager Ben Johnson in the starting line-up for Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City.

With injuries to Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku, Johnson was thrown into the deep end with a start against Man City at The Etihad Stadium.

The 19-year-old became West Ham’s first ever 21st century-born player to feature in the Premier League for the club.

And he held his own for just over 60 minutes before a calf injury forced him off with Pablo Zabaleta taking his place.

Vashon Neufville over Ben Johnson?

Ben Johnson started at left-back against Manchester City. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

Johnson is highly rated by the Hammers but he might not have played if Vashon Neufville had not gone out on loan in January.

With first-team chances looking bleak for Neufville, he was sent on loan to League Two side Newport County to develop with first-team game time.

But injuries to Cresswell and Masuaku opened up a vacancy at left-back and surely Neufville would have been in pole position.

 

The 19-year-old was the under-23’s first-choice at left-back and he is more naturally suited to that position than Johnson, who is predominantly a right-back.

Neufville might be cursing his luck, especially as his loan stint is not quite going to plan.

Vashon Neufville at Newport

Vashon Neufville made his debut against Leicester City but has struggled since. (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City via Getty Images)

Neufville joined the Welsh club on loan and was immediately thrown into the deep end in an FA Cup tie against Leicester City.

Operating as a left-wing-back, the teenager performed well and his cross hit the arm of Marc Albrighton, leading to the winning penalty.

But since then, Neufville has only managed one more outing for Newport – a 3-0 loss against Grimsby Town.

Neufville could have made his West Ham debut against Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium but instead he is struggling to get into Newport’s match day squad in League Two.

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