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Tony Carr backs youngsters to be future stars for West Ham United

West Ham United's legendary former academy boss Tony Carr has tipped a clutch of youngsters to star for the club's first team in the near future.

The former boss of West Ham's famous production line has become a legend after 42 years at Upton Park where he has nurtured some of the best talents the club has ever produced. He famously brought through the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermaine Defoe and Glen Johnson. Carr also had a hand in the development of Chelsea's John Terry, who left the Hammers aged 14, and a number of other players who went on to enjoy long careers in the game.

Now a club ambassador and MBE, the 64-year-old has been telling West Ham's official website which of the club's current young players he expects to graduate into Hammers first team stars.

Defender Reece Oxford - who, according to the Daily Mail, was wanted by some of the top clubs in Europe, including Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City before committing his long-term future to the Hammers - Vashon Neufville, Anthony Scully, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke have been named as key players for the future by Carr, who is the subject of a Premier League World documentary due to air this summer.

Carr said: "Obviously I’m still keeping my finger on the pulse on what’s going on at the Academy. I still love watching the youth team play and it’s great to see so many young coaches as well as players involved with the Academy.

"Currently, we’ve got some outstanding young players in our Academy. Reece Oxford, Vashon Neufville and Anthony Scully are all internationals who are doing very well. In the U21s, Josh Cullen is a great talent, and on the fringes of getting an opportunity for the first team.

"He was Academy Player of the Year last season after having an outstanding year. He’s in the Mark Noble mould, he’s got great character and desire and he’s West Ham through and through. He just needs an opportunity and I’m sure he’ll get it soon. Reece Burke played in the League Cup and a few pre-season games which was fantastic for him."

Carr admitted the production line is 'not as fast as it used to be' but says the club is 'getting there' under new youth team chief Terry Westley.

"Since he’s come in, Terry has done a fantastic job, he’s trying to implement new ideas which is great for everyone because I think the Academy needed a new impetus and fresh eyes and he has done that," Carr said.

"Nothing stays the same, especially in football, and we need to evolve. Hopefully he can get some of our promising young players across that line and into the first team because we’ve struggled to do that over the last few years.

"We’ve had a number of youth players on the first team bench who have not quite made it onto the pitch yet."

But Carr sympathised with current under-fire manager Sam Allardyce, who has been criticised by some Hammers fans for not giving youth a fair chance, admitting it is 'incredibly tough to blood you talent'.

"(It's) tougher than when I was doing it and it’s getting tougher. Now, you get more than a million pounds per place in Premier League prize money so it’s a big incentive to fight for every place. It used to be the case that if you were safe from relegation with a few games to go you’d give the younger places a go but it’s very hard to do that now."

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