One of the big downsides of the defeat against Sheffield United on Tuesday evening was – as admitted by Sam Allardyce – is the halt in progress it will represent to the development of our youngsters – notably perhaps Reece Burke.
The 17-year-old was part of the side humiliated in front of the TV cameras in a 5-0 defeat by Forest in the FA Cup last season but has recovered beyond all expectations.
His appearances this year particularly perhaps season in the match against the Blades showed just how well and he can now justifiably wonder what comes next.
Presumably a place on the bench is the expectation now for a 17 year old who currently looks one of the most promising to appear from the academy in a long time.
In a recent interview Burke explained that he had got himself into the manager’s good books and had worked incredibly hard and that he was grateful for the opportunity of 120 minutes. Good for him.
Sam Allardyce is a tough man to impress as a youngster and that Reece has managed to come this far so quickly is an excellent tribute to his character and ability.
All the signs are that after a goal and top performance in the pre-season against Sampdoria, the assist for Diafra Sakho’s goal and general display against Sheffield United we have a top prospect on our hands.
And given the question mark over the central defensive position involving Winston Reid, many will have their hands together praying the kid progresses fast.
We expect him to be making regular appearances as a substitute and believe by the end of the season he may even be a regular – an early judgement which admittedly may be wrong but this kid looks special.
Sam Allardyce has a very big development job on his hands with this player and of course the likes of Diego Poyet and Dan Potts.
It’s going to be one of the manager’s toughest challenges as Burke in particular will be one of those who could be at the centre of raids from ‘bigger’ clubs.
But at least he is West Ham through and through having been Newham-born and with the club since he was nine years old.
With those academy raids a regular talking point those sort of attachments can still be the ties that bind – the future is in his and Sam Allardyce’s hands.