The 18-year-old was thrown into the team against QPR where he battled well against Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora, but Downing has suggested he’s going to have to work hard to get game time at the start of next season.
“I’m not sure whether he’ll be in from the start next season, Reidy, Ginge and Tonks [James Tomkins] might have something to say about that. But he’s certainly in that mix,” said Downing.
“We know we can depend on him now, the manager can put him in there any time, home or away and he’ll do the job. That was a big performance from him.”
It’s encouraging for Sam Allardyce that he now knows that he’s got a good extra option to slot into his defence when needed.
However, Burke will need to work hard and play consistently through pre-season to show that he’s a better option to start in the back four.
West Ham nailed their colours to the mast with new deals for Winston Reid and James Tomkins earlier this season, while James Collins has substantially more experience.
Those three players will be the men who form the heart of the defence and all Burke can do is bide his time and then take his chances when they are given to him.
If he steps in and excels every time he plays, eventually he will get an opportunity to move higher up in the pecking order.