West Ham’s hopes of replacing Javier Hernandez from within have taken a blow. Three of West Ham’s academy forwards are out injured, meaning there is no natural successor for Chicharito for Manuel Pellegrini to promote.
Sean Adarkwa, Mesaque Dju and Xande Silva would have all been eager to impress Pellegrini after Hernandez departed. West Ham cannot sign any players so Pellegrini will need to find squad depth from somewhere if either Sebastien Haller or Albian Ajeti suffers an injury.
But it does not look like the academy will provide West Ham with a striker. With three striker injuries in the youth team and Oladapo Afolayan out on loan, West Ham have limited options up front. Here are the the three injured Hammers starlets and their chances of playing this season.
With Jahmal Hector-Ingram joining Derby County and Afolayan on loan at Mansfield Town, this could have been a huge season for Adarkwa. But the 18-year-old has had to undergo surgery and his return date is unknown.
Surgery went well, Back soon🦅 pic.twitter.com/9SEGZFSAwu
— Sean Jordan Adarkwa (@seanadarkwa_9) August 27, 2019
Adarkwa signed a one-year deal with West Ham in May. This injury is not helping his case for a longer deal but there is a route to the first-team open if he recovers and immediately starts scoring for the U23 team.
West Ham signed Dju from Benfica last January and he has only played academy football so far. The Portugal U20 starlet is a winger who can also play as a striker, giving Pellegrini another option.
Unfortunately, though, he is also out for a lengthy period of time. According to Football London’s Sam Inkersole, the 20-year-old could miss up to four months with a knee injury. Once he returns, he needs to regain a spot in the U23 team and push on but it might be too late by then as the January window will be open.
Silva burst onto the scene last year, scoring a hat-trick on his U23 debut against Tottenham Hotspur. The Portugal youth international joined from Vitoria de Guimaraes and made an instant impact.
He is prolific at U23 level but now needs to perform in the senior side. He has only been given small tastes of first-team football so far and he is very injury prone. In the summer, the 22-year-old had to undergo surgery and is still recovering.
When he returns in October, it could be a while before he is deemed ready to step up to first-team football. Pellegrini will undoubtedly be watching him closely, though, as he is the top internal contender to replace Hernandez.