West Ham still need a holding midfielder. After bringing in Pablo Fornals, West Ham have strengthened their central midfield ranks. But Manuel Pellegrini still wants another player to provide cover for Declan Rice in the defensive midfield role.
This will become an even more pressing issue if Pedro Obiang and/or Carlos Sanchez leave this summer. But three youngsters will be tested in pre-season to see if they are up to the job.
According to reliable insider EXWHUEmployee on The West Ham Way podcast on Phoenix FM (Wednesday 3rd July), Pellegrini will hand a pre-season opportunity to Conor Coventry, Josh Cullen and Reece Oxford.
Pellegrini will run the rule over these three players in Switzerland and decide whether they can earn a promotion to the first-team squad. And if one or more impresses, this could save West Ham millions in the summer transfer market.
Who can solve West Ham’s problem position?
Cullen is the most obvious choice for Pellegrini. The 23-year-old impressed on loan at Charlton Athletic last season and has gained over 100 games of experience during temporary spells away from East London.
It is a make-or-break season for Cullen. After receiving his first senior Republic of Ireland call-up, it is clear that the boy has some talent. And he will be aiming to impress Pellegrini in pre-season to earn a first-team spot.
Coventry is another young Irish player hoping to prove his worth to Pellegrini. The 19-year-old has already made his first-team debut – as a substitute in the 8-0 cup win over Macclesfield Town.
The Republic of Ireland U21 international has impressed for the Hammers’ U23 team. And he will be trialled in pre-season to earn a place as Rice’s back-up.
Alternatively, Oxford could gain a shock reprieve. The 20-year-old nearly left West Ham earlier this summer but a move to Augsburg broke down over personal terms (The Telegraph).
Oxford predominantly operates as a centre-back but he is comfortable on the ball and has played in midfield before. The England U20 starlet, who stands at 6ft 3in tall, has so much potential but Pellegrini will judge his attitude in pre-season before making a decision on his immediate future.