If there’s been one young West Ham United player who has been knocking on the door of a first team spot this season it has been sensational winger Nathan Holland.
The 21-year-old has been tearing through developmental teams with the Hammers’ Under-23s side, and after his latest masterclass his case for a first team spot is surely now undeniable.
Holland bagged a tremendous brace in West Ham U-23s 4-0 win over their Stoke City counterparts on Monday night, taking his tally for the season to six goals and three assists in Premier League 2 competition.
He truly has been magnificent, and it’s hard to justify his continued absence from manager Manuel Pellegrini’s match day squads, especially given the Irons’ recent struggles.
It would be one thing if West Ham’s attacking midfielders and wingers were performing so well that the Chilean simply couldn’t remove any of them to make space for Holland. The truth, though, is quite the opposite at the moment.
Of the Hammers’ main creative players only Andriy Yarmolenko has started the season well. Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson, Pablo Fornals and Jack Wilshere have all disappointed to varying degrees.
So what would be the big risk in putting Holland in there against Sheffield United on Saturday? If he plays poorly then it’s business as usual for one of Pellegrini’s attacking midfielders. But if he excels then the manager has another terrific prospect on his hands, a la Declan Rice.
The youngster has likely been burned by his participation in last month’s Carabao Cup disaster against Oxford United. However, he was the victim of a horrific team performance and shouldn’t be ignored forever because of it.
No, Pellegrini needs to take a risk and throw the winger in against the Blades on Saturday. He absolutely must get the nod at the London Stadium.