Aston Villa's Joe Cole praises West Ham United's Reece Burke

Aston Villa 2

Aston Villa midfielder Joe Cole believes that West Ham United have a lot of quality in their ranks.

Joe Cole has told Aston Villa's official site that he is not expecting an easy test against West Ham United this weekend.

Cole came through the Hammers' academy system and he still has a high opinion of the club, who he says are continuing to produce quality youngsters.

Cole says that Reece Burke, who has played in West Ham's last two matches, proves that his old club have a lot of quality ready to break through and he thinks they could punish Villa if they are off their game on Saturday. 

"West Ham are a fantastic club - and they still have lots of good young players coming through," he said. 

"You see that with Reece Burke making his appearance as an 18-year-old centre-half, playing Premier League football - that's not usual these days. They're still producing players.

"I understand people might say they haven't got anything to play for - but you're playing in the Premier League. It's something you dream of as a kid."

Despite Cole's complimentary comments, West Ham supporters actually will feel disappointed that the club haven't brought too many youngsters into their first-team recently.

West Ham have a brilliant track record at youth level, but it has been a while since they produced a world-class star.

Burke does seem to have the potential to fill this void, though, and the 18-year-old will hope to continue to impress against Villa.

West Ham still have not conceded since Burke was brought into the defence, but the prospect faces his toughest test yet at the weekend when he will be marking Christian Benteke. 

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch