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Sam Allardyce's decision to give youth a chance at West Ham is well overdue

Sam Allardyce Press Conference Disappointed 12/02/2014

Sam Allardyce has finally admitted the kids are alright at West Ham United and hinted more youngsters could make the first team before the season ends.

One of the biggest criticisms Hammers fans level at their under pressure manager is the lack of opportunities he gives to the club's Academy stars.

West Ham are famous for their production line and even refer to themselves as The Academy of Football. Their policy on giving young players a chance throughout the years and the philosophy instilled in them on how the game should be played is something Irons fans take great pride in.

In fact Hammers fans love nothing more than seeing one of their own blossom into a first team star. But Allardyce has rarely trusted the club's young charges since taking over at Upton Park in 2011.

So far not a single Academy player has made a successful transition to first team regular in the four years under Big Sam with the 60-year-old always favouring experience. Allardyce has argued in the past the youngsters coming through have simply not been good enough to stake a claim for his starting XI.

But that may all be about to change after he told West Ham's official website that the future is bright following an impressive Premier League debut for 18-year-old defender Reece Burke against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend.

Allardyce, who also named fellow youngsters Reece Oxford, Josh Cullen and Diego Poyet on the bench for the derby stalemate, said: "It is really encouraging to see young players coming through.

“When everyone says no one plays a young player any more the bottom line is if you are safe and you say ‘We are going to play a lot of the young players now and we are going to play a lot of players who are on the fringe and whose contracts are up’. We want to put them into games at this level and see if they can stand up and get experience.

“Burke has a great opportunity but I’m sure on Sunday he wouldn’t have been able to walk because he would have been that tired. But he will know the level of performances that he will need from this great experience. Can they cope with the pressure? Against QPR he did that.”

Cynics among the West Ham faithful will say Allardyce's change of tack is no coincidence given the pressure he is under to win over supporters and save his job.

There have been a number of players tipped for big things at Upton Park who fans feel should and could have been given a chance to prove themselves during his tenure. The likes of Rob Hall, Jordan Spence, George Moncur and Pelly Ruddock are just a handful of names who were on the fringes of the first team in recent seasons but were never given an extended run of games before being shipped out to lower league clubs.

But the youngsters fans feel have been the most hard done by of late are Diego Poyet and Elliot Lee. Even when West Ham have been short of numbers up front Allardyce has resisted the urge to play the freescoring Lee, son of former Newcastle and West Ham midfielder Rob, who many fans liken to club legend Tony Cottee.

Poyet, son of former Brighton and Sunderland boss Gus, was signed from Charlton in the summer but has barely been used by the manager despite impressing in brief cameos for the first team.

Allardyce was also accused of feeding some of the club's up-and-coming players to the lions when he famously answered calls from fans to give young players a chance by handing a raft of them their debuts together in last season's 5-0 FA Cup humiliation to then Championship promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest.

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