What West Ham fans should expect from Doneil Henry

West Ham United signing Doneil Henry possesses clear potential but still has a long way to go before he is ready for Premier League action.

Having completed a £1.5 million switch to West Ham United at the weekend, centre-back Doneil Henry now faces an intimidating task in trying to establishing himself in English football.

Henry, 21, was sold to Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol from Toronto FC early last season, but remained with his hometown team on loan through the 2014 campaign, before moving to West Ham without ever turning out for his new club.

The promising Canada international, who has earned 14 caps for the senior side, was the first player to graduate from TFC’s academy when he joined the MLS club’s first-team in August 2010, and would go on to make 92 total appearances over the following four seasons.

He earned his fair share of admirers and doubters during that time and, while his potential was clear for all to see, his weaknesses were also often just as distinguishable.

No more so was that the case than during last season, when the tall and powerful defender’s frequent mental errors saw him concede an MLS-leading five penalties, causing him to lose his automatic starting spot.

Sharing time with rookie Nick Hagglund, Henry then found himself out of favour with new head coach Greg Vanney at the end of the season following Ryan Nelsen’s sacking, and finished the campaign with just 1,802 league minutes to his name compared to his fellow defender’s 2,088.

Arguably the team’s fourth-best centre-back over the course of the season, behind Hagglund, captain Steven Caldwell and makeshift option Bradley Orr, news of a move to Upton Park therefore came as somewhat of a surprise to fans of the Canadian outfit, but there also remain some reasons to be optimistic about his Premier League career.

Physically imposing, quick to the ball and strong in the tackle, Henry has all the tools to suggest that he could prove a success with West Ham in the long-term, but he must first improve his discipline and cut out the frequent mistakes which often drew the ire of Toronto fans.

Pegged as one of the most exciting talents in North America at the time of his emergence, those faults are what saw the Brampton, Ontario-native fail to grow into the dominant MLS defender he was expected to become, and some across the league had even moved to write off his European credentials in 2014 because of his mental struggles.

Nevertheless, after also impressing during a brief training stint at Upton Park last winter, manager Sam Allardyce clearly believes he can mould his new signing into a solid top-flight starter in due time, having previously done the same with the likes of Phil Jones and James Tomkins.

"With a little coaching from us and work in terms of how to defend in the Premier League, Ryan [Nelsen] says he has all the attributes to be a good player,” he told the club’s official website.

"We have invested in him for the near future, so we do hope he can make some sort of appearance this season if he settles in and does as well as Ryan thinks he will. If not, we hope he is certainly one for the future."

Also capable of playing at right-back, those who expect Henry to replace the soon-to-depart Winston Reid will find themselves disappointed but, with the right coaching and some patience, he could eventually over turn the odds and prove a solid option for the Hammers.

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