I’m sure I say this every column but it’s getting nearer and nearer to decision time regarding the futures of the 16 U16 players, with decisions expected to be made in February. I’ll have a preview of all 16 of them in the article – but first, two things:
Goalkeeper Nathan Trott has finally signed a two and a half deal with us. The promising Bermudan joined us on trial late in the summer of 2015 and has throoughly impressed coaching staff and his finally put pen-to-paper on the deal, keeping him contracted until June 2018. He will provide great competition for Sam Howes, Rihards Matrevics and Clarke Bogard at U18 level (subject to FIFA Clearance) and he really is one to watch. It comes to no surprise that reports suggest he too was recommended by Hammers legend Clyde Best – who brought us all Djair Parfitt-Williams.
The other is regarding transfers. Kyle Knoyle has linked up with Dundee United for the rest of the season (to compete with the one and only Guy Demel at right back). It’s a brilliant move for him and this should see Alex Pike become the starting right back for the U21s now. Perhaps next season Alex Pike will be loaned out for a few months just like Knoyle and it’s hard to determine the greater prospect out of the two. The other is that the Reece Brown deal is beginning to look unlikely with no real advancements being made recently as other clubs start to become more interested in him. Now – here are the profiles of the sixteen schoolboys competing for a scholarship at the club:
The most familiar name in this list will be Idris Kanu. The powerful striker has been an U18 regular and has made over fifteen appearances for the U18 side and was notable for scoring twice in the last ten minutes against Liverpool – shortly after scoring for the U16s on the other pitch. He is very highly rated within the club and has already made his U21 debut. Another familiar name will be attacking midfielder Alfie Lewis. A creative player with brilliant passing abilities who has also made a few appearances at U18 level. He has competition with another attacking midfielder in Malyk Hamilton, of Canada, who signed for the club at U12 level. Both are very good on the ball with clever creative abilities and have been U16 regulars this season. Central midfielder Conor Coventry has also appeared for the U18s a few times recently as well as being an U16 regular.
Defensively, six of the sixteen are defenders. Ben Wells, Mason Barrett and Abdoulahi Diallo have all made U18 appearances but Josh Rossiter, Charlie Seaman and Alfie Madden have not yet done so. Wells is an attacking left-back capable of playing in the centre or in defensive midfield and Mason Barrett has shown capability of playing anywhere across the back line. Right-back Abdoulahi Diallo has been a regular in the last few U18 games, filling in at right back for the injured Jake Eggleton. Josh Rossiter has unfortunately struggled with injuries in the last couple of seasons but is a strong, imposing defender and Alfie Madden and Charlie Seaman both played for the U18s in pre-season.
With Rihards Matrevics and Nathan Trott second year scholars next season, and Sam Howes and Clarke Bogard to be eligible as overage goalkeepers, Terry Westley may not take on both of Tyler Forde and Jake Leonard. Both are hugely promising and as was Mitchell Ware, who has signed a scholarship with Ipswich after leaving earlier in the season due to the amount of goalkeepers at youth level. Tyler Forde is a towering, commanding goalkeeper who signed at U14 level and has been on the bench often for the U18s this season and last, anad Jake Leonard is a very long serving player who has unfortunately struggled with injuries in the last couple of seasons too – but was on the bench for the U18s recently.
That leaves two wingers and two strikers. Rosaire Longelo has appeared often for the U18s this season as has Ben Johnson, the pair both U16 regulars as well. They are both fast and explosive wingers with plenty of skills and have impressed whilst playing for Steve Potts and Mark Phillips’ side. Striker Korrey Henry is a long serving player capable of playing midfield, with the tall striker appearing a couple of times from the bench for the U18s. Finally, summer signing Yiannis Constantinou, who has previously played for both Arsenal and Tottenham, is contracted to the club for the next two seasons anyway so he should appear for the club next season unless he is bought by another team.
Of course, I shall keep you all updated here and on my website whufcyouth.wordpress.com – as well as on my Twitter account @whufcyouth. Make sure to keep checking The West Ham Way for the most reliable transfer news in the next week or so too, and thank you again for reading.