By George Overhill

Former West Ham stars Carlton and Joe Cole were full of praise for West Ham’s academy players after their performance in the 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb last night. 

With David Moyes’ men facing an injury crisis in defence and already assured of qualification from their Europa League group, five young Hammers started and two more featured from the bench. 

A full back four of Harrison Ashby, Jamal Baptiste, Ajibola Alese and Emmanuel Longelo, plus attacker Sonny Perkins could not prevent Mislav Orsic’s third-minute stunner but gave a strong showing before Freddie Potts and Keenan Appiah-Forson came on late. 

“(They did) fantastically well, because a back four of young players on this big stage, all together with no senior player to talk, be that calming influence, and to go 1-0 down after three minutes on that stage,” said Joe Cole on BT Sport ESPN after the match.

“It can knock your confidence,” added Carlton.

Joe Cole agreed: “It can, so they showed great character. Fantastic.”

Both were filled with praise, especially for the starters, and suggested they could form part of the answer to dealing with injuries to long-term absentees such as Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna

“Any one of that back four, and Sonny Perkins and the boys who’d come on, could come into that team,” said Joe Cole.

Carlton Cole summed up the night: “They [did] well. Everybody that was involved, I’m really proud of them. I think the whole academy is proud of them as well.”

Reason to be optimistic

It is no surprise that the two Coles from West Ham’s past enjoyed what they saw. 

Having seen West Ham’s excellent start to the season, with wins over Liverpool, Chelsea, and both Manchester sides, thrown into doubt by the injury crisis, a composed outing for so many academy products at once will have settled some nerves. 

And with reported transfer targets such as Nathan Ake and James Tarkowski unlikely to be easy or cheap to acquire in the January transfer window fans will be hoping that the homegrown players will continue to get an opportunity

An entire crop of youngsters breaking into the first team together can form the building blocks of long-term success for a club, as with Manchester United’s famous Class of 92 and arguably with Chelsea’s current squad. 

So, with the situation at the London Stadium already looking so strong this season, last night’s breakthroughs might suggest a golden opportunity to cement their status towards the top of the table. 

In other West Ham news, the Hammers need to make a decision on a transfer target who could be on the move in January.

Be sure to follow West Ham Zone on Facebook and Twitter for 24/7 updates on the Hammers and more exclusive interviews with Frank McAvennie.

The post BT Sport pundits totally agree about ‘Fantastic’ West Ham development v Dinamo Zagreb appeared first on West Ham Zone.

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