All West Ham United fans love it when one of their own come through the ranks and make it into the first team. There have not been too many over the last few years that have been up to the batch we produced when Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick all came through.
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However, with recent injuries, we have seen the emergence of two youth team players who have been around the first team for a couple of seasons without getting too much of a look in – Jordan Spence and Dan Potts. It was also promising to see another youngster, Elliott Lee, make his senior debut during the week. But just how good are they?
Jordan Spence has been around for a few seasons now, spending much of it on loan. I feared for his future when he didn’t look as if he was going to get his chance in the first team. He wasn’t even making the bench, due to our precarious position in the league, and managers like Gianfranco Zola and Avram Grant wanting to stick with experience over youth. Potts obviously featured a couple of times last season, but joined Colchester United on loan at the start of the season to get senior playing time.
Potts returned and started against Man Utd at home in the FA Cup and he looked very good – but he was shaky up at Sunderland and was at fault for their second goal, but again, against Man Utd on Wednesday, he didn’t look out of place.
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Jordan Spence looked very much like Glen Johnson when he first broke into the team. He was solid, defensively sound, won headers, won tackles and his distribution was excellent. He got forward in the second half, and looks a very good athlete. The question is, do we stick with Spence over the experience of Guy Demel? Demel has been playing well this season, but I’m not sure I want him playing if it means a promising youngster won’t get a look in.
As for Potts, I would like him to go back out on loan, maybe to Championship level, and get regular football, like Rob Hall and like Ravel Morrison. I can’t help but think Potts is a bit lightweight still, and needs to beef up a little more before he becomes a permanent part of the first team.
Whatever happens though, it’s good to see more Academy products making an impression in the first team – long may it continue….
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