West Ham youngster Armstrong Oko-Flex has had praise heaped on him by Jim Crawford following his call-up to the Ireland U21s squad.

Crawford, coach of the Irish youth side, selected the 19-year-old for his squad for the first time on Wednesday, putting the maiden call-up down to a resurgence in his career.

Speaking after his squad announcement, Crawford praised the teenager for making a big change in his fledgling career and coming back stronger from difficulties at Arsenal and then Celtic.

“His‌ ‌career‌ ‌was‌ ‌like‌ ‌a‌ ‌little‌ ‌bit‌ ‌of‌ ‌driftwood.‌ ‌He‌ ‌was‌ ‌at‌ ‌Celtic,‌ ‌he‌ ‌got‌ ‌in,‌ ‌and‌ ‌played‌ ‌a‌ ‌few‌ ‌minutes‌ ‌when‌ ‌Covid‌ ‌took‌ ‌over‌ ‌their‌ ‌squad‌ ‌but‌ ‌other‌ ‌than‌ ‌that,‌ ‌he‌ ‌wasn’t‌ ‌featuring‌ ‌that‌ ‌much,” he explained, as quoted by The 42.

“He‌ ‌did ‌well‌ ‌getting‌ ‌to‌ ‌West‌ ‌Ham.‌ ‌And‌ ‌the‌ ‌games‌ ‌I’ve‌ ‌seen‌ ‌them‌ ‌playing,‌ ‌he’s‌ ‌certainly‌ ‌been‌ ‌a‌ ‌standout ‌player‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌23s.

“He‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌talent‌ ‌and‌ ‌we’ve‌ ‌got‌ ‌to‌ ‌protect‌ ‌players‌ ‌like‌ ‌Armstrong‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌creative‌ ‌and‌ ‌talented,” Crawford said.

First-team beckoning?

International recognition has been just around the corner since Oko-Flex arrived at West Ham in the summer. Since cutting his losses at Celtic, where his career was somewhat dwindling, the 19-year-old has shone for West Ham’s reserve side.

He’s had a part to play in the side’s EFL Trophy journey, scoring once in two appearances as West Ham secured progression to the knockout phase, although his performances in the Premier League 2 are what really catch the eye.

In eight outings, the youngster has managed five goals and an assist for the Hammers, including a debut hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of Arsenal back in August (Transfermarkt).

With pace and power, he’s what you pray for in a modern forward and, with a keen eye for goal, he may just be a rare commodity. His ability to play all across the front line also makes him a threat from varied approaches.

With a stunningly emphatic and seamless integration into life at West Ham, he’s undoubtedly earned his international recognition. And it may not be too long before we see him getting a call-up at club level.

There is a well-documented shortage of striking options for the Hammers and, with Moyes keen on managing Michail Antonio’s game time and Andriy Yarmolenko failing to shine brightly, the Scotsman could opt to promote his on-fire youth player – until January, at least.

Having proven his worth at a lower level, Oko-Flex may be justified in feeling ready for this call-up, too.

In other West Ham news, the Hammer’s Carabao Cup clash with Tottenham has been confirmed for Sky Sports broadcast.

The post ‘Creative‌’ – Int’l boss blown away by ‘Standout player’ in West Ham U23s appeared first on West Ham Zone.

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