Teenage starlet Jamal Baptiste could be the “next bright young defender” to emerge from West Ham’s academy, according to Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole.
The 15-year-old featured in the U23 Hammers’ 1-0 win over Valencia B on Wednesday evening – a result that takes the side’s unbeaten run to 13 matches.
And Inkersole was suitably impressed with the youngster.
Writing in a piece for Football.London, he said: “To make a U23 debut eight years before he is no longer eligible to play for them is quite the achievement for teenager Baptiste, who could be the next bright young defender to make it off the production line at Chadwell Heath.”
Inkersole is right on the money here. To be playing U23 football as a schoolboy is pretty jaw dropping in itself, but to help maintain a clean sheet against a very tidy continental outfit is even more impressive. Of course, featuring in one reserve match is no guarantee of success – Reece Oxford made his full Premier League debut at the age of 16 and has subsequently been moved on to Germany – but it is certainly a very strong first step in what will hopefully be a long and distinguished career. The Hammers have an illustrious history of blooding young centre-backs, and with the likes of Bobby Moore and Rio Ferdinand among their alumni, not to mention more recent stars like Declan Rice and the precocious Ajibola Alese, Baptiste could find himself among very highly-rated company if he keeps this trajectory going.