West Ham’s James Collins explains benefit of playing alongside Reece Burke

West Ham star Collins believes that playing alongside Burke results in a great partnership.

Speaking to the official West Ham website, James Collins highlighted the importance of playing alongside Burke, with the youngster’s pace working well with his defensive reading of the game.

The Welsh centre-half said: “Reece Burke has played the last two games and he has the legs next to me which is what I need as I’m getting on a bit! He’s been tremendous since he came in. He looked like he belonged there.

“If he comes in and keeps performing it’s his shirt at the minute. If any of the boys come back it’s a tough decision for the Gaffer.”

Burke has started the Hammers’ last two fixtures, and in impressive style has made a name for himself.

The 18-year-old English youth international was only afforded his chance in the first-team due to injuries to James Tomkins and Winston Reid, but in his debut - the 0-0 draw with QPR - he looked like the most talented defender on the pitch.

His delivery of the ball and touch was questionable, but as an out-and-out defender he excelled.

The youngster then followed that up with a starting role against Burnley, helping his teammates keep a second consecutive clean sheet.

He is sure to start this weekend - as the Hammers take on Aston Villa - and if the East London club keep a third clean sheet, it will be the first time this season they would have completed such a feat. That is impressive in itself, but it would be even better with an 18-year-old defender playing against a very in-form Christian Benteke.

Burke’s rise to prominence has been the real highlight of the last few weeks, especially considering West Ham’s season has ended in nothingness. The club may only just secure a top 10 finish after their European ambitions, but Burke’s breakthrough into Premier League level defender bodes well for next season - as he looks to cement himself as a starting centre-back for the Hammers.

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