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Many Hammers may say that nowadays, the term “Academy of football” can no longer be used to describe our youth system.

With no products of notable talent being brought through the ranks in the last ten or so years.

Slaven Bilic's modern 'Academy of football'However, there is no doubting or questioning the rare and quite tantalizing development squad that we currently possess at the London Stadium, but who are they? Today, we look at the best Young Xl that we could field, if necessary, to give you a lowdown of some of the stars that you could be seeing in the first team, come five or ten years’ time.

GK: Nathan Trott

The young shot-stopper has an incredible pedigree and maturity, showing signs of every element needed to become a high-class Premier League goalkeeper in the modern game. He is also capped at England youth level and most recently has been featuring for the Under 20s, Trott has been earmarked as a future replacement to Joe Hart and certainly is a bright proposition.

RB: Vashon Neufville

The versatile young star can play virtually anywhere within a defensive four with aerial prowess and lightning pace. In a development squad with so much to offer in terms of defensive ability, the thing that makes him stand out is his outstanding performances in both attacking and defending parts of the pitch. It surely won’t be too long before the likes of Aaron Cresswell and Pablo Zabaleta are looking over their shoulders.

CB: Declan Rice

Making headlines the world over in recent weeks for his wondrous exploits and performances for Slaven Bilic’s first team at the start of the Premier League campaign. He certainly does look like quite something. Rice has also received a call-up for the Republic of Ireland senior team and is the emblem of technical and natural ability either playing in defence or defensive midfield. Despite being only 18, Bilic described him as having “the maturity of a 30-year-old”.

CB: Reece Burke

Much like Rice, Burke has enjoyed action for the senior side over the past few seasons and looks an exceptional talent. However, the starlet has been loaned out to the likes of Bradford City and Wigan Athletic more recently and is currently with Championship Bolton Wanderers. Despite this, next summer is being earmarked as the time when Burke will finally be allowed to stay in East London with the expected retirement of James Collins.

LB: Reece Oxford

Currently enjoying a spell in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach, Oxford is undoubtedly the most recognisable starlet in this Xl and can play either at full-back, centre-back or defensive midfield. Famously breaking into the Hammers side in the 0-2 win over Arsenal at the Emirates, he has featured in both the Premier League and Europa League since and remains on course to become the predicted future captain of England and West Ham United.

RCM: Josh Cullen

Whilst currently with Reece Burke at Bolton, the Irishman has been likened to current club skipper Mark Noble and former great Scott Parker. Cullen sits consistently in front of the defence and is known for both his vision and tough-tackling style, he made his Premier League debut just weeks after Oxford and like Burke, Antonio Martinez, and Moses Makasi, he spent pre-season with the first team.

CM: Moses Makasi

Having impressed under Slaven Bilic in the last few months, Makasi is the current skipper of the development squad and like so many in this team, oozes maturity beyond his years. The next step is believed to be a loan move for the 22-year-old who is the oldest of our crème de la crème of youth stars, but one of the most promising.

LCM: Dan Kemp

Catching the eye of many at the tender age of just 18, the England Under 19 starlet is a consistent performer for Terry Westley’s U23’s with a real spark and flare. While videos of him scoring outrageously in training have gone viral, the former Chelsea man’s recent goal against Swansea in the PL2 Division One was something to behold. Sighting the keeper off his line just into The Swans’ half, Kemp launched a wondrous shot that dipped in and reaffirmed his place as one of the best prospects at the club.

RF: Nathan Holland

Recently making his first team debut in the Carabao Cup visit of Bolton Wanderers, the winger certainly does look like something special. Vision and attack are the two main aspects of his game as he racks up plenty goals and assists in the PL2, any Hammer foolish enough to think that this starlet hasn’t got what it takes would be very wrong.

ST: Antonio Martinez

There is certainly no doubting that the Spaniard is one of the most prolific forwards currently at the club with strength, pace and a born eye for goal. Breaking into the first team and scoring in Germany during the summer, he has turned heads with close to 20 goals for the development squad in just 20 appearances. Martinez also netted twice in the FA Cup for Oxford United and the stats back him all the way to the top.

LF: Martin Samuelsen

It may be over two years now since we signed the Norwegian international, but he continues to impress in the youth ranks. Showing great versatility and scoring goals of all forms has become his trademark and despite recent loans to Blackburn Rovers and Peterborough United, he remains on course to be a regular feature for Bilic sooner rather than later.

Other Notable Starlets

For the huge wealth of talent in that young side, there are still some starlets of note that have been left out. These include exciting attackers Domingos Quina and Marcus Browne, Montenegrin international midfielder Sead Haksabanovic and defenders Tunji Akinola, Josh Pask and Alex Pike. So, now that we have profiled the Hammers of the future, just how long will it take for some of these youngsters to come through?

Originally published at moorethanjustaclub.com

Post written by Luke Glanville, Twitter: @lukegcoyi
for Moore Than A Club, Blog: moorethanjustaclub.com, Twitter: @MooreThanAClub

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