Sam Allardyce hopes last night’s thrashing at the hands of Wigan will stun some of his young players in to realising how much they need to improve to play regular first-team football for West Ham.
Teenagers Dylan Tombides, Daniel Potts, Robert Hall and Matt Fanimo were all given a chance to impress Allardyce yesterday in the Capital One Cup clash against Wigan, but they all left Upton Park in disappointment after a 4-1 defeat.
All four have helped West Ham climb to the top of National Group One of the newly-formed Barclays Under-21 Premier League, but Allardyce left it clear that they did not play up to the required standard for first-team football.
The West Ham boss fumed at his side’s “comical” defending in what was an “embarrassing” result, but the 57-year-old thinks the experience of a heavy defeat, which was followed by loud booing from the home fans, might prove beneficial to the youngsters in the long term.
“With a result like that it can help them find out that they have to make massive leaps and strides to play consistently at this level,” Allardyce said.
“They do have ability and that will develop over the future hopefully.
“We have Mark Noble and James Tomkins in the squad who are home-grown and hopefully we will find one or two more who can make the step up as time goes on.”
The under-21 league, which began this season as a means of trying to help bridge the gap between academy and first-team level, has helped the young players develop, Allardyce says.
But the former Bolton boss is still a firm believer in the loan system as a way of developing players and he is therefore likely to allow some of his current crop to leave on a temporary basis.
He said: “We are doing very well at under-21 level, which is always nice to see, but it can only develop them so far, so a loan is the next step for some of them so we will let some of them go out.”
Of all the young players on show last night, Hall was probably the only one who could be satisfied with his performance.
The 18-year-old academy product was making his first start, but showed few nerves as he tested Ali Al-Habsi early on before striking the bar in the second half.
The forward, who has also made two substitute appearances this season, insists all the young players at West Ham are desperate to make it in to Allardyce’s long-term plans despite yesterday’s big defeat.
“I and all the other young boys want to play,” he said.
“It has been our dream since we were young. We aren’t here just to make the numbers up.
“We are training hard every day. Playing (regularly) is what we want to do.”
Roberto Martinez also looked to give his young players a chance last night by making seven changes to the side that lost to Fulham on Saturday.
His selection was much more effective, with strikes from Jordi Gomez, Ivan Ramis and a brace from Mauro Boselli ensuring the Lancashire side’s passage to the fourth round.
Boselli grabbed all the headlines with his double-strike, but Ryo Miyaichi also impressed.
There have been some doubts as to whether the 19-year-old Japanese is ready for the rigours of top-flight English football, but Martinez insists the Arsenal loanee has a vital part to play at the club this season.
“He is only 19 but his performances against Fulham and West Ham show he’s someone who is ready to have a massive, massive impact this season,” the Wigan manager said.
“I was very pleased with his performance. Overall his contribution was very, very good and he is a player that is growing.
“He can play on the right or the left and he is very decisive in a one-on-one situation.
“He is one of those players who you really want to pay to watch.”