'Leader of people' - West Ham coach praises Manchester United, Arsenal targeted wonderkid Reece Oxford

Reece Oxford captained West Ham’s Development squad to a 2-1 victory over Jong PSV.

Oxford has been enjoying a spell in the limelight for the opening stages of the season, with a string of incredible performances for the Hammers youth teams growing interest from across England.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have regularly sent scouts to watch the 15-year-old defender, who is also a regular fixture on the international scene - having captained England Under-17’s over the summer. At 6ft 3ins, the central defender excels in his age range, having been complimented for his on-the-ball ability and reading of the game.

He has been rushed into the first-team set-up on a number of occasions, training with them and being named on the bench for the Hammers League Cup tie with Sheffield United in September, and, although the club are keen to tie down his future, the 15-year-old has still held off signing a professional deal at the Boleyn Ground, and he could move to any Premier League club for minimal compensation in the coming months.

Despite the uncertainty concerning his future, Oxford is still a regular at Under-21 level for the Hammers, and he captained the side - despite being six years younger than some of his teammates - to a 2-1 victory over Jong PSV in the Premier League International Cup at the Boleyn Ground.

The Hammers were playing against a squad that consisted of overage players - including full Netherlands international Stijn Schaars - and Academy Director Terry Westley had words of praise for his young squad, singling out Oxford for special praise.

Speaking to the official West Ham website, Westley said: “It's [the captaincy] not a gimmick. People might say that you've done that because you want him to sign.

“But I think he's a leader of people. He's not captain of England U17s for nothing.

“He's captain on merit and I thought he did excellently tonight. He was delighted to get his team across the line with a win.

“He represents the club whenever he plays and we are trying to accelerate his learning curve. He's still learning but it's a great start for him.”

If he continues to perform in such an impressive manner, it will likely be not too long before the youngster is turning out for the first-team, and the promise of Premier League football at such a young age could be the key factor in keeping the highly-rated prospect in East London for the early stages of his career.

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